Sixth Sunday of Easter (A)
May 14, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



Rite of Sprinkling



Grant, almighty God,
that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy,
which we keep in honor of the risen Lord,
and that what we relive in remembrance
we may always hold to in what we do.
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)

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good
things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such
love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above
all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we
can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP)

O God,
you have prepared for those who love you
joys beyond understanding.
Pour into our hearts such love for you,
that, loving you above all else,
we may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.  (BCW)

First Reading Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

 Philip went down to the city of Samaria
   and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
   when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
   came out of many possessed people,
   and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem
   heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,
   they sent them Peter and John,
   who went down and prayed for them,
   that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
   for it had not yet fallen upon any of them;
   they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid hands on them
   and they received the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”

“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.

He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!

Second Reading 1 Peter 3:15-18

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
   to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
   but do it with gentleness and reverence,
   keeping your conscience clear,
   so that, when you are maligned,
   those who defame your good conduct in Christ
   may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
   if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered for sins once,
   the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
   that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
   he was brought to life in the Spirit. 

Gospel Acclamation

Gospel John 14:15-21

 Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
   and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
   the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
   because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
   and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
   but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
   and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
   is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
   and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Reflection Questions:

  1. How might you offer a defense for "the hope which is in you"?
  2. How do you handle any feelings of desolation?
  3. In what ways do you experience Christ being in you and you in him?

Catena Nova

Because Christ's disciples did not yet know who he was, it was likely that they would greatly miss his companionship, his teaching, his actual physical presence, and be completely disconsolate when he had gone. Therefore he said: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor,” meaning another like himself.… By “He will be with you” he meant, “He will be with you as I am with you,” but he also hinted at the difference between them, namely, that the spirit would not suffer as he had done, nor would he ever depart….He said that the Spirit was another like himself, that he would not leave them, that he would come to them just as he himself had come, and that he would remain in them. Yet even this did not drive away their sadness, for they still wanted Christ himself and his companionship. So to satisfy them he said: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.” Do not be afraid, for when I promised to send you another counselor I did not mean that I was going to abandon you for ever, nor by saying that he would remain with you did I mean that I would not see you again. Of course I also will come to you; I will not leave you orphans (St. John Chrysostom).

The person who loves God cannot help loving every other person as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds. A soul filled with thoughts of sensual desire and hatred is unpurified. If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against anyone whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating anyone else (St. Maximus the Confessor).
“My Father and I will come, and in the holy place will make our home”. This means that the Son of God will seek a holy place in your heart…. Why, then, are we sorrowful at times? Why are we troubled inwardly? Is it a matter of trying to find a fitting place for the Lord within ourselves? After all, which of us can provide Jesus with a really fitting place—He who is the Lord of Glory? Where is the place that is worthy of his majesty? I would count myself fortunate to be found worthy of worshipping at his footstool and being able to cling to his feet! Maybe I can at least cling to the feet of a saintly person who the Lord has chosen to be his dwelling place! Yet, the fact is that the Lord only needs to anoint me inwardly with the oil we call his mercy to enable me to cry out: “I have run the way of your commandments because you have enlarged my heart”! I may not be about to usher the Lord into a large place in my heart, one wonderfully furnished, and then invite him to refresh himself there together with his disciples. I only hope that I will be able to offer him a place to lay his head!  One has to grow and be enlarged inwardly to become capable of containing God within oneself. The dimensions of a soul, however, are proportioned to its love. This is what St. Paul reminds us of when he calls upon us to “widen our hearts in love”. The soul is, of course, spiritual and can’t be measured in a physical sense. But grace makes possible what nature cannot. We expand spiritually as we make progress toward the perfection of our humanity called “the full stature of Christ”, as St. Paul notes. That is why we can grow into a temple sacred to the Lord. Love is the measure of our inward self, of our soul. Souls who love much are large and those that love little are small. The soul that has no love at all is nothing! St. Paul says it: “Without love I am nothing!” By Christ’s grace, we attain even to the stature, to the wideness and fullness, of the love that sets apart Jesus Christ. Let Christ's grace work this wonder in your heart! Then you will have truly prepared a place for the Lord to dwell. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others (St. Clare of Assisi).

With the well-tuned, harmonious harp of your divine heart, and through the power of your Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, I sing to you, Lord God, lovable Father. I sing you songs of praise and thanksgiving for all creatures in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, for all which are and were and will be born. I give you thanks to the best of my ability, Lord God. You created and re-create me. Thank you for your kind forgiveness and for reassuring me of your unending love, flowing down from up above. Be my honor, Lord, my joy, my beauty, my consolation in sorrow, my counsel in uncertainty, my defense in everything unfair, my patience in problems, my abundance in poverty, my food in fasting, my sleep in vigilance, and my therapy in weakness (St. Gertrude of Helfta).

Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife, which may at any moment become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself, "What else is the world interested in?" What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? God is love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship to each other. We want with all our hearts to love, to be loved. And not just in the family but to look upon all as our mothers, sisters, brothers, children. It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too, because it is a foretaste of heaven. (Dorothy Day)


The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great spirit, and that this center is really everywhere; it is within each of us (Nicholas Black Elk).



I am the Holy Spirit.  My Pronouns Are….?

The “forgotten Person of the Blessed Trinity.” That’s one unhappy title of the Holy Spirit.  One reason the Holy Spirit has been called that is our difficulty imagining the Spirit.  If you say “God the Father” an image of the First Person in God pops into your head -- however inadequate.  Even more does “God the Son” conjure images of the Second Person of the Trinity.  After all, the Word became flesh and dwelled among us.
But if you say “Holy Spirit,” or worse, “Holy Ghost,” well, what comes to mind?  A dove?  Probably.  If you go in search of images for the Spirit on the Internet that's about all you will find.  But what is it about a dove that reflects the Third Person in God?  Its gentleness?  Certainly.  I’ve never known the Spirit to be pushy.  Its power of flight?  Yes, that also says something about the Holy Spirit.  Even a dove’s cooing could describe a bit of the Spirit’s character.  But a dove is hard to relate to, isn’t it?  Unless you’re the Birdman of Alcatraz.    
Of course, the Bible has many other images for the Holy Spirit.  Luke portrays the Spirit as wind and tongues of fire.  Pentecost will bring these images to mind in two weeks.  John too speaks of the Spirit as wind -- the same Greek word means both “spirit” and “wind.”  And no one loves a play on words better than John.
He also speaks of the Spirit as breath, or better, the act of breathing: as when Jesus’ exhaled his dying breath on the cross and gave up his Spirit, something he would do again the night of his resurrection, breathing on the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit.  But in these days when mouths covered with masks are still seen here and there breathing can be viewed as dangerous, so the Spirit can lose out again on a helpful image.
Why, even St. Thomas Aquinas had a terrible time coming up with a way to describe the Holy Spirit because, in his own words, “The Holy Spirit does not have a proper name” – like the Father and Son do.  Nor did Thomas feel confident in describing the Sprit’s unique place in the Godhead or the Spirit’s unique mission in the world.  After all, we know what a father and a son are and how they relate to each other – begetting and begotten, as the Creed puts it.  And we know how the Father sent the Son into the world to redeem it, but what about the Spirit?  Following the Creed, the best Thomas came up with was to say the Spirit proceeds by way of “spiration,” and has something to do with our sanctification by grace.
         Now I’m being a little unfair to St. Thomas.  He did agree with a long tradition of seeing the Holy Spirit as Personal Love: the love of the Father and the Son who joins them together in the eternal embrace of Lover and Beloved, in the unity of Their Mutual Love. This is a wonderful way to imagine God: as a communion of Persons akin to the bonds which unite spouses, families, and friends.  And it is this Love of God which Paul says has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Rm. 5:5).  Still, as St. Thomas realized, a bond between human persons is not itself a “person” in our modern sense of the word – and so this image, like all images, has some real limitations.  Fortunately, the Bible and Tradition don’t fail us altogether when it comes to imagining the Holy Spirit in more accessible terms, even human ones. 
        Which is why, perhaps, John also calls the Holy Spirit, “the Paraclete.”  And though it’s impossible to translate this word in a way that captures all of its richness, it nevertheless brings us into a more relatable realm.  Beginning with the translation of Paraclete as “Advocate” -- a legal term meaning “Defense Lawyer.”  That’s right, the person you hire to plead your case in a court of law, hoping to convince the judge and jury that you’re innocent, or at least that the evidence against you leaves room for a reasonable doubt.  So the Holy Spirit is the Counselor for the Defense when it comes to us who believe, but when it comes to the world, the Advocate is the Prosecutor convicting it, John says, in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation (Jn. 16:8).  I like to think here of Atticus Finch’s defense of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird.
        Others think Paraclete is better translated as “Helper.”  Now a whole slew of images comes to mind, from someone who served as your mentor or coach; to someone who rescued you from danger or saved your life; to someone who got you a job or promotion; to someone who nursed you to health or gave you assistance in a time of need.  Imagine anyone who’s helped you along the path of life, and you’ll have a pretty good image for the Spirit.
        Another candidate for translating Paraclete is “Teacher.”  Who can’t imagine the Spirit in these terms?  From parents who taught us to perform the most basic tasks; to teachers who taught  us to read and write; to those who taught us wisdom a beyond the Three Rs; to those who taught us the ways of faith.  Imagine anyone who’s served as your teacher, and you’ll have another pretty good image of the Spirit.  One of my favorites is Anne Sullivan who taught Helen Keller to speak and to read despite her lack of vision and hearing.
        Still others think Paraclete should be rendered as “Comforter” -- someone who consoles us after Jesus’ departure, not leaving us orphans, as well as someone who strengthens us when faced with challenges and adversity. The Spirit, in other words, as our guardian who makes our adoption as children of God legal and who guarantees our inheritance.  For as proof that [we] are children, Paul says, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!  (Gal. 4:6) 
We could go on. But I hope these suggestions spark your imagination and make the Holy Spirit less forgotten.  And while it’s true that whatever analogy we might employ to say what God is like, God is infinitely more unlike any word or image we can come up with -- which is why a few centuries back Pope Benedict XIV forbade depicting the Holy Spirit in human form, lest our imaginations run wild -- still,  Paul tells us, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. . .with sighs too deep for words (Rm. 8:26) – a kind of Divine Midwife helping the birthing process of God's children along — imagine that!

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we may grow in our awareness that Christ is in us and see the hand of God in the people, the events in our lives and in the created world around us.

For the renew of God’s Spirit in our hearts: that God will stir up into a flame the gift of the Spirit so that we may build up the Body of Christ and bring forth God’s reign in the world.

For a new spirit in our personal interactions: that we may speak with reverence and gentleness to one another, recognizing that we have become sisters and brothers in Christ.

For the unity of all Christians: that the Spirit of God will heal the misunderstandings and wounds in the Body of Christ and lead us to a greater unity of mind and action as we confront evil and work to ease human suffering.

For those who experience injustice: that God will raise up and heal all who are disrespected or treated unjustly and bring forth the truth that will set them free.

For all who are ill: that God’s healing Spirit will ease their suffering, give them strength, and restore them to wholeness.

For greater respect for God’s creation: that we may recognize our interdependence with the created world and work to preserve the balance in nature that God has established.

For government and business leaders: that God will inspire them to develop policies to protect the health and well-being of the human family and promote the renewal of the economy.

Faithful God,
who love us in Christ Jesus,
send your Spirit of truth to dwell within us,
that we may always reject what is false,
live by the commands of Christ,
and be true to the love you have shown us.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant


 Offertory Motet (Charles Beaudrot)

I will not leave you comfortless, alleluia. I will come again to you.

Communion Chant

Communion Motet (Thomas Tallis)



If ye love me,
keep my commandments,
and I will pray the Father,
and he shall give you another comforter,
that he may 'bide with you forever,
e'en the spirit of truth.

Closing Hymn


Come down, O love divine, seek Thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing.
O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn, til earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,
Shall far out-pass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace, till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling.