This week we celebrate the third and last Scrutiny with our elect who are preparing to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. Their time of pre-baptismal preparation is quickly coming to an end and the Sacred Triduum is fast approaching. The Gospel for the Third Scrutiny recounts Jesus’ greatest and final sign before his death and resurrection: the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This is the scrutiny of life. The Elect are asked, together with all of us who pray for them and celebrate the Rite with them, to make a fundamental choice. Will we chose the path of life or will we chose the path of death?
In the Gospel, Lazarus is dead already four days. His body is rotting. The tomb is sealed. He is gone. His sisters had called for Jesus to come while Lazarus was gravely ill but still alive and Jesus arrived too late. Or so they thought. Jesus must push Mary and Martha to the limits of their faith in Him. Can they truly believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Can their faith in Him be stronger even than the stone tomb, with its huge rock sealing it and the darkness and death lying within?
“Lazarus come out!”
Jesus does not drag Lazarus out of the tomb. He calls him out. Lazarus must hear the Lord’s voice and he must abandon his tomb. He must come out of the darkness and decay within.
This Sunday we pray that the Elect will make the same choice. The path of the Gospel offers life. The path of this world devoid of God leads only to death. It would seem that the choice would be easy, but it is not and that is why during the scrutinies we pray for them to make the right choice. The tomb has a seductive safety and reality, as does sin: wealth and money are real and they make people feel safe and secure, but can wealth save anyone from death? Anger and violence are real and they make people feel good at times, but do they give anyone the serenity that comes with peace and patience? Prejudices are real and they make people feel superior to others, but do they real cure anyone’s sense of inadequacy? Lust and gluttony offer real pleasures but does using other people and the good gifts of God’s creation for my selfish amusement really offer meaning and joy? Do any of these cure the ache in our hearts that there must be more to this life that God has given us than a slow march to the dark tomb?
No, but their attraction is strong, and so we pray for help. We pray that the Spirit lets us hear the voice of Christ calling us: “Come out!” Come out into the light, come out into life, come out into love, into peace into justice, into mercy, into forgiveness, and into all the joy that God promises us. God did not create us for death. He created us for life –abundant life. The final scrutiny asks us all, as Good Friday and Easter approach: will we choose life no matter what the cost?
Director of Evangelization