Sunday, March 24, 2019

Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year A, First Scrutiny

A popular beer commercial reminds us to stay thirsty my friends.  Well today we are going to explore never being thirsty again.  But first what is happening here today.  We did not continue on reading from Luke in our Year C Lenten journey.  In fact many of us were looking through the worship aids to find the right readings.

Welcome my friends to the 1st Scrutiny of this Lenten season.  Today we continue the preparation for our elect, those who will be Baptized, Confirmed and receive Holy Eucharist for the 1st time after a long journey of preparation.  We are rejoicing here locally with our 2 elect and also with our 4 candidates.

So why did we read from Year A.  The short answer is the Church has done this for quite some time.  Even before there was a RCIA process, these readings were usually chosen, especially form the elect.  This week it is the woman at the well and then we follow with the man born blind and the story of Lazarus.  The Church strongly presents to us the sublime words of Scripture.  In fact, Scripture is prominent in every celebration of the Mass.  Today, after Vatican Council II, the amount of Scripture heard at every Mass in a year is about 17% of the Old Testament and 72% of the New Testament.  And of course the church's 3-year cycle provides even more Scripture.  As an aside, this does not mean that for us Catholics we should only depend on Mass as our source of Scripture.  Absolutely not.  It is our responsibility to not just attend Mass but to study Scripture, at home, in small groups or even our parish offered Bible studies.

Our elect, and our candidates have been deeply studying Scripture as part of the process to enter fully into the Church.  Both these Scripture readings and the rites to be celebrated through each Scrutiny is intended to expose any sins that prevent them from being fully prepared while strengthening their inherit goodness.  And there is nothing preventing us from doing the same!

So the first Gospel we heard proclaimed is the woman at the well.  Jesus finds himself in Samaria, tired and thirsty, at the well of Jacob, alone with a Samaritan woman.  The fact that she is alone fetching water will be explained shortly.  We heard that Jews and Samaritans have nothing in common but indeed Jesus speaks to her; give me something to drink.  This serves as a reminder of when from the Cross we will hear Jesus say: I thirst.  In this encounter Jesus may have experienced physical thirst but also he  was thirsting for the soul of this woman.  He tells her matter of factly that she has had 5 husbands and apparently a boyfriend currently on the side.  So enthralled with all that Jesus tells her and shares with her that she recognizes Him as Messiah and runs to tell the townspeople.  So convincing her tale that they come to the well to see and they grow in faith from what the woman shared to what they actually hear and witness with their encounter with Christ.

We too, especially our elect, are called to let Jesus help us realize our sin, claim it and confess it asking for repentance and then sharing our knowledge of Christ with others.  We come to right relationship with Christ first then spread the good news!

In a few minutes our elect will celebrate their first Scrutiny.  And all of us will participate with our prayers and the attention paid to the words of this rite.  As they go their way may all of us remember our Lenten journeys; avail ourselves of Confession, pray the Stations of the Cross, attend our parish missions and personally grow in a life of increased and more sincere prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

In need of a beer, well, we will be thirsty again.

In need of Jesus as the center of our lives, we will never be thirsty again.

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