Sunday, April 6, 2014
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Ezekiel 37:12-14
Romans 8:8-11
John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

Before the Rite of Christian Initiation was introduced, convert instruction was, in many places, a lonely journey for those who joined the Church. When the RCIA was first introduced, we rejoiced that those entering the faith at the Easter Vigil would have companions from the parish. We knew that the experience would enrich those who were preparing for baptism.

What many did not realize was how their own faith would be enriched. We were, in fact, told that this rite would change not only the sponsors but everyone in the parish. It was a bold assertion but many have been changed. The faith life of both those who are sponsors and those in the larger community has been invigorated by participation in the process. Those of us in the pews who have walked with the Catechumens and witnessed the rites have seen the enthusiasm of those who are joining us. These believers have challenged us to new zeal. We have looked at our own faith and tried to renew our own spiritual lives.

During these last weeks, the Scripture Readings and the Scrutinies have been singularly directed at the journey we are taking. Today, we take a closer look at what the RCIA and the Lenten season are about. Few Sunday Gospels contain more colorful characters or drama than these. The Samaritan woman, the man born blind and Lazarus are stories from the Gospel of John and are particularly important in our preparation for Easter and our understanding of the Scrutinies.
Most of the Catechumens joined the RCIA because someone told them of Jesus using their lives or their words. They came because of what they heard. Through these weeks, like the villagers in the story, they have stayed because they have heard for themselves.

The man born blind came to see the Lord only gradually. The Catechumen’s eyes are signed during the Rite of Acceptance. Throughout the Catechumenate, a person begins to understand who Jesus really is.

Now in the story of Lazarus, we hear Martha proclaim her faith in Jesus even before he raises Lazarus. Those who have been accompanying the catechumens have been helping them to believe in Christ in this way: to understand that out of death life will come.

When we look at the three Scrutiny readings together, we begin to understand how RCIA and Lent are “ intended as well to enlighten the minds and hearts of the elect with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior.”

Easter approaches and in only a few weeks the Catechumens must announce that they believe. It’s time for them to scrutinize or examine their faith and we must do that too. Together, we will stand at the altar and like the Samaritan woman, we will hear and believe. Like the man born blind, we will see and believe and like Martha, we will believe with no proof.

The promise about which we read in the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel is fulfilled in Jesus, “the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.”

St. Paul reminds us that this spirit assures us that Christ lives in us.

The Easter promise is for all who live the spirit of Easter throughout the year.