This time of scrutiny what is it? What is its’ purpose? It is not simply to critique and assess your readiness—that was done at the Rite of Election. The purpose of the scrutinies is for each of you, the elect, to look within yourselves and uncover, and understand all that is weak, defective, or sinful in your hearts. It has a second purpose, as well, to bring out, and strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good in you.

As you continue on this journey realize one very important fact. None of us, no one reading this, and no one on this planet is perfect. Each one of us has made and continues to make wrong and bad decisions in our life. This time of scrutiny is a time for honesty. This is a time for you to look at yourself and see what it is that is holding you back, preventing you from getting closer to Jesus.

In the readings, today, we hear many references to water and thirst. In the Book of Exodus, we hear the people complaining to Moses and to God about their thirst. These were the same people who had been enslaved in Egypt, but at least, there, they had food and water. Now with Moses, leading them to the Promised Land, they had neither. So, they grumbled as to where this journey was taking them, and the hardships they had to endure.

Before we touch on today’s Gospel, we have to understand a little of the tension between the Jewish people and the Samaritans. After the death of King Solomon, the Jewish kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem. The Samaritans were viewed as a sinful people, because they worshipped idols, their current fads. The Jews maintained their belief in one God. So, though they had common roots, Jewish people were forbidden to associate, nor talk with the Samaritans.

In the Gospel of John, we hear the story of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman. Jesus approaches the woman at the well and asks her for some water. She immediately responds with, “How do you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for water?” To which Jesus replies, if you had the gift of faith, and knew who I am, you would be asking me for the gift of living water.

The Gospel continues with Jesus revealing to her the nature of her life and that she had 5 husbands. This was her scrutiny. This was her time to look at herself, to view her life and see the falseness, the shallowness of it. This passage ends with the woman speaking of the Messiah, to which Jesus simply says, “I am He.”

Do you see the similarity in these readings and with what is going on with your life, right now? The waters of Baptism, your belief in Jesus, these have the promise of eternal life. This is your journey to the Promised Land. This is not, however, a simple road. It will entail hardship, at times. It will involve your honesty. It will require you to look at your life and how you are living it.

This time of scrutiny is very important. It starts you on a road of looking at yourself, at your motives and where you need to make corrections. This process of introspection (looking within) will last a lifetime. The more we focus on Jesus, and then look at where we are, we will know what it is that needs to be addressed.

We said at the outset that there were two purposes to the scrutinies. The second is to bring out, strengthen and understand all that is good within you. The Catholic Christian life is not, and will never be simply focused on the removal of evil. That is not what Jesus was  about. It is a positive life. It is one of doing good acts, helping people, being truly concerned about people.

We try to live our lives in a way that Jesus will be glorified and honored. We do this by being like Him. I can’t help people giving them money, if I am poor and have no money to give. I can’t help people across the street, if I, myself, am blind, and cannot see the other side of the street. The time of scrutiny is also a time to know what goodness we do possess. Do you have a smiling personality? Do you feel sad when you see someone suffering? Do you have time to give to people? These are all qualities that others need to receive. Give what you do have.

So the scrutinies involve our seeing where we are lacking, and also seeing what gifts we do have. We pray to our Father in heaven to help us eliminate those aspects of our lives that prevent us from living the life of Christ. And at the same time to help us grow to be like His Son.

As the time draws near for your reception of Baptism, or Confirmation or the Eucharist, you must spend it in preparation of yourselves. Allow the words of the Gospels to fill your hearts and reshape your lives. Allow Jesus’ life to inspire you and lead you. Look within and see what commitment you have made. The time of scrutiny is a positive time. It is a time of opportunity. It is your time.

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