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Sunday, March 23, 2014

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Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17:3-7
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
John 4:5-42

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the scrutinies

"Come and see Someone Who told me everything I ever did!" —John 4:29

The catechumens, those preparing to be baptized and enter the Church, will receive today and on the next two Sundays the ancient prayers called "the scrutinies." In these prayers, we ask the Lord to scrutinize and purify the hearts of the catechumens. As we accompany the catechumens in making the baptismal promises on Easter Sunday, so we should accompany them in the scrutinies.

Today we pray for Jesus to scrutinize our hearts and do in us what He did for the Samaritan woman. Jesus penetrated five husbands' worth of sin, self-hatred, and self-deception (see Jn 4:18). The woman felt as if Jesus had told her everything she had ever done (Jn 4:29). It was as if her whole life had flashed before her during her conversation with Jesus. The Lord is willing to scrutinize and purify us in a similar way.

After Jesus has removed years of garbage from our hearts, the love of God will be "poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us" (Rm 5:5). After emptying our hearts of sin and its effects, the Lord fills our hearts with love.

Then, we will speak out of the abundance of our hearts (Lk 6:45). Like the Samaritan woman, we will be witnesses for Jesus, and many people from our towns will believe in Jesus on the strength of our words of testimony (Jn 4:39). Thus, the scrutinies result in love and a new evangelization.

Prayer:  Father, may I never be the same after these scrutinies.

Promise:  "It is precisely in this that God proves His love for us: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." —Rm 5:8

Praise:  Praise You, Holy Spirit! You led Jesus into the desert (Mt 4:1) and raised Him from the dead (Rm 8:11).

Reference:  (For additional related teaching, order our book, Living In Reality.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 8, 2013

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