Today’s homily is for the 3rd Sunday of Lent, the Scrutinies, March 7 , 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video can be viewed by clicking here soon.
As we journey through Lent we usually focus on our personal disciplines, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Recently, I encouraged us to consider inviting our spouse or family in a Lenten activity. Now I’m asking you to broaden your Lenten prayer to include those who are seeking to enter into full communion with the Catholic community here at OLA: Trevor, Brian, Janie, her son Julian.
Today’s readings for Mass aren’t the normal Sunday readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B. Instead they are taken from what are called, “The Scrutiny Readings.” These are alternative readings offered by the Church for our reflection on what they mean for our catechumens, in particular, but also for all of us.
First, let’s talk about their title. What does it mean to be a catechumen? The root word for catechumen is catecare, which just means “to teach” or “to instruct.” That’s where we get our word, Catechism, or “the teaching.” A catechist (a teacher) uses the catechism (the teachings), to catechize (to teach), the catechumens (those being taught), and that process is called catechesis. That’s a lot of cats, but it all stems from same word, which just means to be taught about the Lord Jesus. That’s it! We’re just spreading the good news! – on Wednesday nights after Mass, from 6:45-8:30pm in the classroom, and Sundays from 9:30-10:30 in the hall. Look, we make it so, as Harry Potter might say, “complicated.” But it’s just telling people about Jesus and the Church he founded to which God has called them.
It’s what happened with the woman at the well in today’s readings. Moment by moment she grew to know Jesus more fully. First she says he’s just a Jew and probably shouldn’t even be talking to her, a Samaritan. Then he reveals himself as a prophet of Israel…okay, now we’re getting somewhere. And finally, she recognizes him and the Messiah, Lord and King. Slowly, over time she comes to believe–and that’s great.
But what she does next is what I’m calling your attention to today. It isn’t about her and Jesus. If that were the case she might have simply sat down and stayed right there with him. Instead, she grabbed her water jar, went back to the town and told everyone she could about what she had discovered at the well. She had encountered God and been changed. She taught them about what she had come to know as true and how he made her feel. She was a catechist! Herself on the journey, but still sharing with others. And then, “Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified.”
Of course it wasn’t only because of what she said, they did a little ongoing faith formation themselves! The townspeople invited him to stay with them and they began to believe in him as the savior of the world because of two things: her testimony and their own invitation for Jesus to enter their home.
And so it is with Christian families, CCD, faith formation, or RCIA. First others teach you the love they have found in Jesus. They share with you the joy and life they have found in the Messiah. But the second part is up to you, it’s up to Trevor, Brian, Janie, and Julian. We must invite him in. We will not believe based solely on the word of others. We must ask the Lord to enter our home and enter our heart. Jesus wants a relationship. He wants to be our savior, the savior of Israel, and the savior of the world.
What an honor to share the joy we’ve found in Jesus. I love sharing, and being part of the RCIA team with David and Vince, James, and others. Please keep these learners in prayer. Keep the OLA RCIA team in prayer, keep our faith formation teams in prayer, and like the woman at the well, don’t be afraid to sign up to teach youth or adults yourself. As Isaiah says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, announcing peace and salvation.” Please keep these catechumen in prayer as they journey toward Calvary on Easter Sunday…and say hello if you happen to see them. They want to join us and follow Jesus with us.