The scrutinies are special rites celebrated at Masses on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent, where the Elect are present. The Elect are those preparing to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter Vigil. During their spiritual journey, they have been received among us at the Rite of Acceptance and enrolled in the Book of the Elect in the Rite of Election.
The Gospel readings (Year A) for the three scrutinies -- the woman at the well, the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus -- reflect the very purpose of the rites. As the term suggests, during this period the Elect examine (scrutinize) their lives and pray to God for the grace to uncover and to heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in their hearts and to bring out and strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good (RCIA, 141). It is also a time for all in our community to reflect upon the journey the Elect are making as an inspiration and source of renewal for each of us in our own Lenten journey.
The scrutiny readings illustrate what the RCIA means when it says that Lent “is intended . . . to enlighten the minds and hearts of the Elect with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior” (RCIA, 139). In sequence, the readings ask:
- Could he possibly be the Messiah?
- Do you believe in the Son of Man?
- Do you believe this?
As a community, we pray that our elect may hear and believe (the woman at the well), see and believe (the man born blind), and believe without proof (the raising of Lazarus).