Last Sunday we celebrated the first of the three Scrutinies with our elect who are in their final weeks of preparation for Baptism. The first scrutiny calls them to turn away from the lure of false promises which bombard us offering to quench our thirst, and to drink fully from the life-giving Spirit of Christ himself. This Sunday we will celebrate the second scrutiny: the scrutiny of light which calls us not to be blind to the reality of sin and evil.
The gospel reading for the second scrutiny is the cure of the man born blind. In the reading we hear talk about sin, innocence, seeing and blindness. All of the scrutinies challenge us to look at sin and sinfulness. The second scrutiny is particularly pointed in focusing our gaze on the reality of evil. Why do we do this? What is the point of taking three weeks before Easter to focus our gaze on sin? The answer is that evil is real. It is seductive. It is powerful and it needs to be resisted. In the gospel there is the physical blindness of the innocent man who is cured and the spiritual blindness of those who are quick to accuse others of sin but refuse to see their own.
Blindness to our own sinfulness is dangerous. Everyone sins. No one but Jesus himself is without sin. The difference between someone who seeks God’s kingdom and someone on a different path is that the saint admits their sinfulness and tries to do better. This takes humility before God and each other as well as fortitude and an openness to grow. The opposite is to be blind to our own failings, to believe that we never do anything for which we must apologize, and that all of our thoughts and actions are perfectly fine. This stems from pride and arrogance.
The scrutinies not only make us to look at our own sinfulness, but they challenge us to also look at the evil that exists in our world. There is a dangerous blindness when we refuse to see the structures of injustice that pervade the world. No one is really born into the world with a “clean slate.” Some are born with wealth or are born to the right family, in the right country, speaking the right language, etc., and this gives real advantages. Others are less fortunate. Some are born in a poor country, or to a poor family. Their lives will be an up hill battle. There is an unfairness and injustice in the world that touches us the moment we arrive. This is part of the mystery we call “original sin.”
The scrutinies also call our attention to the structures of inherited sin and injustice. As followers of Christ we are not only called to strive for greater personal integrity, we are also called to fight the evil that exists in the social, political and economic arenas. Christ calls us to build a world of greater justice, peace and opportunity which benefits all people, not just the rich and the powerful. The task is daunting. It can seem almost impossible, but that is why during the scrutinies, we pray to the Father to give the elect, and all of us, the strength of the Holy Spirit to fight evil in all of its manifestations. Evil is powerful and we must not be blind to it. But God is more powerful by far. We do not fight this fight alone; we fight with Christ who has already won the victory.
-Joseph Nuzzi, Director of Evangelization
Next week: The Third Scrutiny: Call to Abundant Life