questionmarkQ: Can you use Year A readings on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent even at Masses without a Scrutiny?

A: Yes! Go to your Lectionary to the beginning of the readings for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year B (Lectionary #29B). There, right at the top of the page before the first reading, you’ll find this rubric (“rubric” means “red” and is just a fancy term for text that is meant to be an instruction or direction): “The readings given for Year A, n. 28, may be used in place of these.” You’ll find this same rubric at the beginning of the readings for the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent, for Years B and C.

What is the reason that the Church would permit Year A readings for these Sundays of Lent in place of the Year B and C readings? These three readings from John’s Gospel (the woman and the well; the man born blind; the raising of Lazarus) are one of the oldest sets of readings used specifically for the preparation of those about to be baptized. They closely parallel the conversion journey toward baptism and powerfully convey the importance of faith in Christ as the mark of readiness to follow his way. If in your parish this year you have Elect (those who will be baptized at the next Easter Vigil), then it is recommended that the entire parish pray and reflect on the same readings as the Elect, even if the Elect will not be present at every Mass on those Sundays. This way the entire parish community is focusing their prayers for the complete conversion of the Elect. In addition, through these readings, the faithful can also deepen their own conversion in preparation for renewing their baptismal promises. Therefore, with the reform of the Lectionary, the Church reinstated these three readings as the premiere readings for the three Sundays before Holy Week, whether or not Scrutinies are celebrated on those Sundays.

See also the note at the front of your Lectionary, in the General Introduction, #97: “Because these Gospels are of major importance in regard to Christian initiation, they may also be read in Year B and Year C, especially in places where there are catechumens.” As you know, if you have Elect present at the Masses for the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent, you must use the Gospel readings for Year A regardless of what year we are in. If you have catechumens present (those who are preparing for baptism but will not be baptized at the upcoming Easter Vigil), the Lectionary still recommends that you use Year A as well for these Sundays.

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