Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)
May 07, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Rite of Sprinkling



Almighty ever-living God,
constantly accomplish the Paschal Mystery within us,
that those you were pleased to make new in Holy Baptism
may, under your protective care, bear much fruit
and come to the joys of life eternal.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant
us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way,
the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his
steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ
your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP)

Almighty God,
your Son Jesus Christ
is the way, the truth, and the life.
Give us grace to love one another,
to follow in the way of his commandments,
and to share his risen life;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading Acts 6:1-7

 As the number of disciples continued to grow,
   the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews
   because their widows
   were being neglected in the daily distribution.
So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said,
   “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.
Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men,
   filled with the Spirit and wisdom,
   whom we shall appoint to this task,
   whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer
   and to the ministry of the word.”
The proposal was acceptable to the whole community,
   so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit,
   also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas,
   and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
They presented these men to the apostles
   who prayed and laid hands on them.
The word of God continued to spread,
   and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly;
   even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

Responsorial Psalm


Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.

Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.

Second Reading 1 Peter 2:4-9

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings
   but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
   and, like living stones,
   let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
   to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
   acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
For it says in Scripture:
   Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion,
   a cornerstone, chosen and precious,
   and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.

Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith:
   The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone,
   A stone that will make people stumble,
   and a rock that will make them fall.

They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny.

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
   a holy nation, a people of his own,
   so that you may announce the praises” of him
   who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Verse before the Gospel

Gospel John 14:1-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
   would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
   I will come back again and take you to myself,
   so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
   “Master, we do not know where you are going;
   how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him,
   “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
   and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
   or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
   whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
   and will do greater ones than these,
   because I am going to the Father.”

Reflection Questions

  1. What troubles your heart these days?
  2. In what ways have you been called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light?
  3. Which are the “greater” works of faith most evident in your own life?

Catena Nova

Let us march forward intrepidly to meet our Redeemer, Jesus, pursuing our onward course without swerving until we come to the assembly of the saints and are welcomed by the company of the just. It is to join our Christian forebears that we are journeying, to those who taught us our faith—that faith which comes to our aid and safeguards our heritage for us even when we have no good works to show. In the place we are making, the Lord will be everyone’s light; the true light which enlightens every human person will shine upon all. In the house where we are going the Lord Jesus has prepared many dwelling-places for his servants, so that where he is we also may be, for this was his desire…. Yes, Lord Jesus, we do follow you, but we can only come at your bidding. No one can make the ascent without you, for you are our way, our truth, our life, our strength, our confidence, our reward. Be the way that receives us, the truth that strengthens us, the life that invigorates us (St. Ambrose of Milan).

Christ himself is the way, and therefore he says: I am the way. This certainly is eminently right for through him we have access to the Father. Since this way is not separate from its end, but joined to it, he adds the truth and the life; thus he is himself at once both the way and the goal. In his human nature he is the way, and in his divine nature he is the goal. Therefore, speaking as man he says: I am the way; and speaking as God he adds: the truth and the life. These two words are an apt description of this goal. For this goal is the object of human desire, and a person desires two things above all. In the first place he wants to know the truth, which is peculiar to him; and secondly he wants to continue to exist, which is common to all things. Christ is the way by which we come to know truth, though he is also that truth: Lead me, O Lord, in truth, and I shall enter into your way. Christ is also the way to come to life, though he is also that life: You have made known the ways of life… If you are looking for a goal, hold fast to Christ, because he himself is the truth, where we desire to be. My mouth shall reflect on the truth. If you are looking for a resting place, hold fast to Christ, because he himself is the life. Whoever finds me finds life, and receives salvation from the Lord. Therefore hold fast to Christ if you wish to be safe. (St. Thomas Aquinas).

I have made a Bridge of my Word, of my only-begotten Son, and this is the truth. I have given you the Bridge of my Son, in order that, passing across the flood (of the tempestuous sea of this life), you may not be drowned.  Look at the Bridge of my Son, and see the greatness thereof. The height of the Divinity, humbled to the earth, and joined with your humanity, made the Bridge in order that man might come to his true happiness with the angels…. The pilgrim, having passed the Bridge, arrives at the door which is part of the Bridge, at which all must enter, wherefore he says: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; he who follows me does not walk in darkness, but in light.” For those who cross by the Bridge, being still in the darkness of the body, find light, and being mortal, find immortal life, tasting, through love, the light of eternal truth which promises refreshment (St. Catherine of Siena).

Saint Augustine says that there is a mysterious place deep in the soul that is beyond time and this world, a part higher than that which gives life and movement to the body; true prayer so raises the heart that God can come into this innermost place, the most disinterested, intimate, and noble part of our being, the seat of our unity. It is His eternal dwelling-place, and into this grand and mysterious kingdom He pours the sweet delight of which I have spoken. Then is man no longer troubled by anything: he is recollected, quiet, and really himself, and becomes daily more detached, spiritualized, and contemplative, for God is within him, reigning and working in the depths of his soul.  (Johannes Tauler)
Without the Way, there is no going, Without the Truth, there is no knowing, Without the Life, there is no living.  (Thomas à Kempis)
He who glorified Christ, imparts Him thus glorified to us. If He could work miracles in the days of His flesh, how much more can He work miracles now? and if His visible miracles were full of power, how much more His miracles invisible. Let us beg of Him grace wherewith to enter into the depth of our privileges,—to enjoy what we possess,—to believe, to use, to improve, to glory in our present gifts as "members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven" (St. John Henry Newman).
This is what Jesus did for us: he reserved us a place in Heaven. He took our humanity upon himself to take it beyond death, to a new place, to Heaven, so that where he is, we might also be there. It is the certainty that consoles us: there is a reserved place for everyone. There's a place for me, too. Each of us can say: there is a place for me. We do not live aimlessly and without destination. We are expected, we are precious. God is in love with us, we are his children. And for us he has prepared the most worthy and beautiful place: Paradise. Let us not forget this: the dwelling place that awaits us is Paradise. Here we are passing through. We are made for Heaven, for eternal life, to live forever. Forever: it's something we can't even imagine now. But it is even more beautiful to think that this forever will be entirely in joy, in full communion with God and with others, without more tears, without resentments, without divisions and troubles. (Pope Francis)




            By any chance, have you walked on water lately?  Fed a crowd with a few loaves of bread and fish?   Healed the blind, the deaf, the paralyzed, the lame?  Changed water into wine?  Raised anyone from the dead?   No one has done any works greater than those of Christ?  Even though he said, Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these (G)?

            Seems something’s amiss here.  What works could possibly be greater than the ones Christ performed?  Then there must be a difference between his works and ours, no? Well, one theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, has suggested this verse from John’s gospel is indeed about something different: “This refers,” he says, “not to outstanding miracles, but to the fact there is reserved for the Church an effect on the world that Jesus himself did not wish to have.  His task was action, failure, death.”

            It’s true. Church history bears it out: Nero, during whose reign Peter and Paul would be martyred, is gone while his successor Constantine would build the original basilicas in Rome honoring the Galilean fisherman and the tentmaker from Tarsus – albeit centuries later.

            In the same city, where many other Christians were killed who would not worship the idols of Rome, you can visit the Church of St. Clement built over the Temple of Mithras; the Basilica of St. Mary Major built over the Shrine of Cybele; and the Pantheon dedicated to “all the Roman gods” but now dedicated to “St. Mary and all Martyrs.”

            Then there’s Napoleon, who coerced Pope Pius VII to come to Paris to crown him Emperor, only to take the crown from the pope’s hands and crown himself instead. He died in confinement on the island of Saint Helena – named after Constantine’s Christian mother -- while the same pope, returning from exile imposed by the Emperor, would live to oversee the Restoration of the Papal States after Napoleon met his Waterloo.

            And there’s the Ugandan King Mwanga II, who saw to the martyrdom of numerous Christian converts, including St. Charles Lwanga. He too is gone, while Africa is today the epicenter of the “next Christianity” flourishing in the Southern Hemisphere.

            Perhaps more than others, the 20th Century bears special witness to the movement of the Church in time.  Adolf Hitler, for example, died by suicide in a Berlin bunker while the churches of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, Titus Brandsma, and other Christian martyrs of the Third Reich survive. Vladimir Lenin, whose embalmed corpse is still on view in the Kremlin, and Joseph Stalin, who asked how many military divisions the pope has, would be shocked to learn how an Archbishop of Krakow, and later of Rome, would be instrumental in seeing the Soviet Union disbanded, the Berlin Wall come down, and the Russian Orthodox Church rise again – despite 80-plus years of official atheism and persecution of believers.

            Now I realize it’s dangerous to read any historical event as a sign of Providence at work in human history. A highly prejudiced view once common among Christians, for example, saw the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 as punishment for the crucifixion of Christ and the many streams of anti-Semitism such an interpretation fostered mar Christian history. When the event could just as easily be seen as the inevitable result of religion resorting to violence to achieve political goals – in this case, the Zealots who stood against Rome.  Such things carry within them the seeds of their own destruction, so forget putting God behind such disasters.  That includes, by the way, the pandemic which all too many “interpreters” proclaimed a sign of divine displeasure and righteous chastisement for whatever moral issues they wished to highlight – while blithely ignoring others, of course.

            Then there are those who like to think the victories of Christian armies over Muslim forces at the battles of Tours, Lepanto and Vienna over the span of several centuries were due to divine intervention. Yet they must face the fact that Constantinople, and with it the Christian Byzantine Empire, fell to the Ottoman Turks in the middle of the 15th Century never to return.  And don’t forget the Crusades, whose ultimate failure should remind Christians that when they live by the sword, they too will sooner or later die by the sword just like everyone else -- as Jesus made clear the night of his arrest in the Garden of Olives when Peter wielded a sword to cut off the ear of a slave.  Christian nationalists, often armed to the teeth, please take note.

            But church history does seem to bear out one constant theme: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians,” as Tertullian said in the year 197. Which is to say, the church advances only by way of the Lord’s paschal mystery.  As von Balthasar went on to note: “In failure and under persecution the Church will smash through all barriers erected against her.” In that sense, she is no different than her Lord: that is to say, rejected by human beings. And while one might note a certain advance of the Church over her enemies as time marches on, it’s only in imitation of her Lord, the stone that the builders rejected (II).

            So as we try to discern where Providence is at work in our lives, where the “greater works” are unfolding among us and within us, it's easy to point to the apparent triumphs of our lives, our greatest successes, and proudest accomplishments.  And yes, the grace of God can surely be at work on the resurrection side of the Paschal Mystery.  After all, that’s why we celebrate it these seven weeks of the Easter season.

            But it’s in those moments of apparent failure, loss of prestige, and humbling circumstances that God may be doing the greatest works from the cross side of the Paschal Mystery – or so it seems in the light of history and the lives of countless saints. So like poor Thomas and Philip we might easily miss what’s right there in front of us!  Namely, the Christ whose Way is not the world’s; whose Truth shatters human wisdom, and whose Life emerges from a tomb: Christ, the way, the truth and the life (G). Who lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen.

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the church: that we may live as God’s chosen people and follow Christ who is our Way, our Truth and our Life.

For those struggling to understand Christ: that the Spirit will lead them to recognize the works of God in their lives and the world around them as a sign of God's love and presence.

For all who serve the poor, widows, orphans and the forgotten of society: that God will renew their hearts and strengthen their spirits to continue to reach out to those in need.

For all burdened by worry and anxiety: that they may find in Christ hope, freedom, and peace.

For all who are struggling with addictions: that Christ may be their way to freedom and wholeness.

For all who work the earth: that they may use their skills wisely to feed the human family and that God will give them favorable weather and an abundant harvest

For all who are unemployed:  that God will give them courage, help them to persevere as they wait, and help them find support from others.

We have beheld your glory, O God,
in the face of Christ Jesus, your Son.
Enliven our faith,
that through Christ we may put our trust in you.
Deepen our faith,
that in Christ we may serve you.
Complete our faith,
that one day we may live with you
in that place which Christ prepares for us,
where he lives with you now and always
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant


Offertory Hymn

Come, risen Lord, and deign to be our guest; 
nay, let us be thy guests; the feast is thine;
 thyself at thine own board make manifest 
in this our sacrament of bread and wine.

We meet as in the upper room they met;
 thou at thy table, blessing, yet dost stand:
 “This is my body”: so thou givest yet;
 faith still receives the cup as from thy hand.

One with each other, Lord, and one in thee,
 who art one Saviour and one living Head;
 then open thou our eyes that we may see;
 be known to us in breaking of the Bread.  

Communion Antiphon


Closing Chant (Taize')


O surrexit Christus, Alleluia! O cantate Domino, Alleluia!

O Christ is risen, alleluia! O sing to the Lord, alleluia!