|Weekly Message from the Pastor|
Today in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
The 4th Sunday of Lent is designated by the incipit of the Introit at Mass: “Laetare Jerusalem” (Rejoice, O Jerusalem) from Isaiah 66:10. It marks the mid-point of the season of Lent in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. We pause to cautiously celebrate the ultimate victory to be won for us through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. And yet, the forty days of Lent continue as we prepare ourselves to be worthy vessels to receive the risen Lord into our lives and our hearts.
In the restored catechumenate, the Church uses a ritual called a “Scrutiny” to unfold the mystery of sin in the lives of those who will be baptized at Easter. These examinations of sin are performed in the midst of the assembly and they focus on the gospel themes of thirst, blindness, and death. The Scrutiny last Sunday revealed Christ as the living water that brings eternal life to those who thirst for God in their life. Today’s scrutiny recalls the blindness that infects us and reveals Jesus as the Light of the world. Next Sunday will scrutinize the experience of death that is the result of sin and the hope that Jesus brings life from death as he raised Lazarus from the dead. It is only in Jesus Christ that our thirst for God is quenched. He heals us of our blindness and helps us to see the Truth. And just as Lazarus was raised and unbound from his burial shroud, we are set free from all that binds us to a culture of death to live in the freedom of the children of God. These rites of the catechumenate scrutinize where God is present in our experience and exorcise those areas of our life where evil finds a foothold. The two are related to each other because the mystery of God’s grace, and our acceptance of that grace in our life, is contingent upon our “turning away from sin and believing in the Gospel.” There must be an awareness of sin for the renunciation (exorcism) to take place. And like a photographic negative, the presence of the sin is often revealed by the in-depth reflection (scrutiny) of God’s light in the life of the believer. In other words, by examining the good, we can often discover the evil. A little story will suffice to illustrate the point.
There was once a woman who never spoke ill of anyone. Others in her town often marveled that she would not so much even hint at a negative remark. Her reputation had grown to legendary proportions, and there were some who resented her for her charitable tongue. It occurred to one enterprising neighbor that profit could be made if the woman could be coaxed to speak ill of someone. He canvassed the town and made his wagers that he could prompt a negative remark to come from her lips. When the moment came in the market square, with all the townsfolk gathered around for the test. He asked the woman of her opinion of the Devil. She thought for a moment and responded: “He’s a very hard worker.”
Sometimes we need to scrutinize the good to see the bad. The evil that is in our midst – and sometimes in our hearts – does not always reveal itself in the dark. It is often the light that reveals the darkness and the good that exposes the bad.