The three Gospel readings of the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent—those when we celebrate the special RCIA rites called scrutinies—take us on a journey as we follow Christ and grow in faith. We journey from sin, blindness, and death to eternal life with Christ. Help the initiation candidates and sponsors explore these Gospel stories by using Arts & Faith: Lent videos and the following three-part activity.
Materials: blank copy paper, pencils, black ballpoint pens, colorful markers
The Gospel for the Third Sunday of Lent presents the story of the Samaritan woman meeting Jesus at the well. Before this meeting, she lives a life of sin. But through her chance meeting with Jesus, she recognizes him for what he is, proclaiming in town that she has met a man, “who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
Our video commentary states that, “the woman at the well enters the tomb as she acknowledges in truth the painful path of her life. Christ illuminates her heart. He invites her to move beyond her current life. She enters the tomb of this in truth and accepts the living water.” We are, each of us, invited to enter the tomb by facing our own painful past. It is an invitation; we are not forced to pass through the red curtain.
As you prepare to enter the tomb on your journey to the living water of the sacraments, reflect on what truths you have faced, as the Samaritan woman faced her own truths at the well.
Activity Part 1: Imagine yourself sitting at the well when Jesus arrives and asks for water. What truths would Jesus tell you about yourself as he talked with you? What difficult or painful area of your past would Jesus point out to you? In the center of a piece of blank copy paper, using pencil, write down a word or draw a symbolic representation that is indicative of a difficult area of your past that you faced on this journey.
Example: If the difficult area is a fear of death while battling illness, a symbol might be a tombstone.
In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we encounter a man born blind, sitting alongside the road. He is regarded as a sinner because of his blindness. When Jesus anoints the man’s eyes with clay and heals him, not only are the man’s eyes opened to see the world around him, his heart is opened to see the power and truth of God, as well.
Our Arts & Faith: Lent video states that, “this story invites us to open wider our eyes of faith and become aware of the merciful, healing grace all around us.” Drawing closer to the reception of the sacraments, you have been encouraged to open your own eyes and heart to see more of the world around you and how you can change and grow in Christ.
Activity Part 2: Spend a few minutes reflecting on the word or symbol you wrote or drew during the previous scrutiny week. Think about how your eyes have been opened and how encountering Christ will change—or has already changed—your viewpoint on that difficult area. Using a black ballpoint pen, draw an eye over the penciled word or symbol.
In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we encounter what many consider to be Jesus’ greatest miracle during his life—the raising of Lazarus four days after his burial. It is in this final Gospel from the scrutinies that we see the end result of our soul searching with the Samaritan woman and gift of sight with the man born blind. It is the promise of rising into new life with Christ.
As stated in the art video commentary, “Jesus, hand held up in blessing, stops Death in his tracks…Jesus looks out at us…[and] addresses us the viewers with eternal truth: ‘I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even if he dies, he will live.’”
This is the promise made to us at the reception of the sacraments. We die in Baptism, are forgiven of our sins so that our souls may be healed, and rise again in eternal life with Christ. We, like Lazarus, pass through the darkness of the tomb to emerge new in the resurrection.
Activity Part 3: Reflecting on the first two parts of this activity and today’s Gospel, think of a new word or symbol that has taken the place of that painful truth you wrote or symbolized in pencil. Using a brightly colored marker, write the new word or draw the new symbol that shows healing or new hope and faith (Make it large.) directly over the previous penciled word/symbol and black pen eye.
Example: Based on our previous example of a tombstone as a symbol of a fear of death, the new outlook might be hope in the resurrection, symbolized by the word “heaven.”
Notice how much bolder the new word or symbol is. The penciled word is still visible, just as past hurts or difficulties never truly disappear, but the new viewpoint now takes precedence in your outlook. If you are comfortable, share your project with your sponsor and/or RCIA group.