A Ritual Journey: The Third Scrutiny
The Third Scrutiny follows the Second Scrutiny on the Fifth Sunday in Lent. As we saw with the first two scrutinies, the intent of the Third Scrutiny is for the elect to “renounce sin and evil and profess faith in the Triune God at their baptism” (Guide for Celebrating Christian Initiation with Adults, 58). The pattern is the same:
- Readings from Series A (John 11: The Raising of Lazarus, pointing the elect to the new life received through their dying and rising with Christ in their baptisms)
- Homily (which includes exploration of the meaning of the scrutiny)
- Silent prayer by the presider, sponsors, elect, and the assembly
- Intercessions for the elect
- Exorcism Prayer
- Dismissal of the elect
The Third Scrutiny, through the Gospel text of the Raising of Lazarus, emphasizes that only in Jesus can they receive true “life in the face of death” (Guide, 60). Each of the scrutinies in the RCIA includes two sets of intercessions and two sets of excorcism prayers. Set “B” better highlights the Gospel reading of the raising of Lazarus and the theme of death and new life in Christ. This is reflected in the following texts among others: “acknowledge Christ as the resurrection and the life”; “become like Christ by baptism, dead to sin and alive for ever in God’s sight”; and “the Eucharistic food, which they are soon to receive, may make them one with Christ, the source of life and resurrection” (RCIA Study Edition, 105-106). The exorcism prayers further open up these themes. As one of them prays,
“Lord Jesus Christ, you commanded Lazarus to step forth alive from his tomb and by your own resurrection freed all people from death. We pray for these your servants, who eagerly approach the waters of new birth and hunger for the banquet of life. Do not let the power of death hold them back, for, by their faith, they will share in the triumph of your resurrection, for you live and reign forever and ever. Amen (RCIA Study Edition, 108).
Once again the presider calls the elect and the assembly to pray silently and so to examine their lives and repent in light of the authority of the Lord of death and life. Like the previous two scrutinies, the elect are focused on enlivened faith in the Triune God and are directed toward their liberation from sin, evil, and the power of satan through their enlightenment in their baptism into Christ Jesus.