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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Homily for the First Scrutiny (Third Sunday in Lent)

Those who follow along with the readings may have noticed that we didn't hear the normal readings for Year B, which we might have expected, but rather went to the readings for Year A. We're doing this as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation, as today we begin the Scrutinies. This year, we have the great privilege of welcoming 8(?) new members into the Church.

As part of this RCIA process, the elect are asked to undergo the Scrutinies. While the term “scrutiny” is frequently used as something done to a person, like being watched by a supervisor, we understand that the Scrutinies are rites of self-searching and repentance on a spiritual level. Through these Scrutinies, the elect are to learn a process that we're all challenged to undergo on a daily basis. First, the elect are challenged to find and uncover all that is week, defective, and sinful within their souls. Secondly, they are tasked to discover and strengthen all that is upright, strong and good within themselves. These tasks are not something that should be done once, but are something all of us should do on a daily basis throughout our entire lives. We're all called to find the bad and strengthen the good that is within us.

This week, we are beginning the process of the three Scrutinies, which will continue for two more Saturday evenings. We do these Scrutinies so that the elect and those of us who are already members of the Church may realize the power sin has on us and increase our desire for salvation. These Scrutinies are not only for the elect, but to remind us as well.

Tonight, with the first Scrutiny, we are given the Gospel passage about the Samaritan woman at the well. This woman came to look for physical water, but found the spiritual water that she was thirsting for. This woman, who was living in a sinful relationship, found the cure for her thirst through Our Lord.

All of us have a thirst, a desire for something greater than us. We know that there is something more than what we can experience with our senses, and we desire it. Sin promises us that it will fulfill that thirst, and often will quench it initially, but later makes us all the more thirsty. Much like a sugary drink that seems to fill our earthly thirst but actually drys us out, sin worsens our thirst instead of reducing it.

When speaking to the Samaritan woman, Our Lord promises her that He is the living water that will quench her thirst. This thirst is not the physical thirst that water fulfills, but is the desire to be united with God. When we turn away from sin and place our trust in Jesus, we will receive this living water which will quench our spiritual thirst.

When we try to fulfill our spiritual thirst through sin, we find that it fails to satisfy that thirst, but following Our Lord satisfies it more than we can imagine.

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