March 25, 2012 - Fifth Sunday of Lent with Scrutinies

Today's Readings

Today is the day of the third scrutiny of the elect. When the catechumens hear that there are going to be three scrutinies, sometimes they are concerned. “How exactly are we going to be scrutinized?”, they wonder.

The first thing that should be said comes from St. Paul: for who knows what pertains to the human except the spirit inside of them? These scrutinies are not of something external. We are not going to scrutinize your hairstyle or the way you dress or any of those things that matter to the world. We are not even going to attempt to scrutinize your soul because we cannot see it. The only person who can scrutinize you is you. The point of these scrutinies is for you to scrutinize yourself. You are hoping to be baptized in a couple weeks, so scrutinize yourselves and see whether there is anything else you should leave behind as you approach the baptismal font.

The scrutinies are for you the elect, but they are also for all of us who have been baptized. For the candidates for Confirmation and for all of us here. As the scrutinies are read, we should scrutinize ourselves. If we are perfectly happy with everything we see, we should probably look more closely. When we find something that is not good, we should turn it over to God. We have such a normal desire to turn a blind eye to our faults. We must scrutinize ourselves.

God wants to save us, and he does not want to do it halfway. He wants us to be perfect. How perfect? Perfect like he is perfect. This is impossible for us to accomplish, but it is not an impossible goal. We must not ever be satisfied with less.

We just sang today: “With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.” Not some half-baked redemption. The fullness of redemption. Not some watered down redemption. The fullness of redemption. Not some just good enough, best that could be done, what more could you possibly expect redemption. The fullness of redemption. With the Lord there is mercy and the fullness of redemption. Mercy for when we sin; the fullness of redemption so that we may sin no more.

If anyone is afraid that there is something in their life that is beyond the power of God, be not afraid! Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and he will raise our mortal bodies also. “Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them.” If God can raise the dead, what else can he do? This is the point of the Gospel today. If he can resurrect a man, dead and in the grave for four days, what could possibly be beyond his capability?

Jesus tells Martha, “Your brother will rise.” It sounds like the sort of thing people say at funerals all the time. When we see someone who is mourning, we do not know what to say. We are helpless to help, so we have certain catchphrases: “I’m sorry for your loss.” “He was a good man” “Well, he is in heaven now.” Martha seems to think that Jesus is just saying something polite, so she accepts his condolences: “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus reminds her, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Here Jesus is saying one of those things that proves he was not just a nice teacher. “I am the resurrection and the life” is not something someone slips casually into conversation. Who but the almighty God could say that? And if the person who said that also died for us on the Cross, he will give us everything we need besides. He will give us mercy, and he will give us the fullness of redemption.