Msgr Michael de Verteuil, Chair of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission continues a series of articles for the Lenten season.
As the Church tells us, Lent is a preparation for Easter, and what we are preparing to do is to be baptised or to renew our baptismal commitment as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.
Let us look at how the liturgy of the Third Sunday of Lent forms us for this. There are two possibilities for the readings for this Sunday – Year A, particularly if there are candidates for baptism, or Year B.
Collect. The opening prayer asks the Lord to “look graciously on this confession of our lowliness” and reminds us of God’s mercy and graciousness and of the practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving to help us on our journey of preparation.
Preface. There are three possible prefaces. In the first, to be used when the Gospel speaks of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, we give God thanks that He kindled in the woman the fire of divine love. We pray that He might kindle in us that love.
There are two options if the readings of Year B are used. The first (Lent Preface 1) speaks of the joy of minds made pure as we journey to the sacred paschal feasts and that we may come to the fullness of grace. We remember our Lenten journey of conversion – are our minds becoming purer?
The second prayer reminds us that Lent is a sacred time for the renewing and purifying of hearts. We want to renew our baptism with new hearts.
First Reading, Year A. This tells of Moses striking the rock and water pouring forth. St Paul (1 Cor 10:4) says that the rock was Christ. This reading therefore tells us of the wonder of baptism.
Second Reading, Year A. Baptism linked to the death of Jesus who died for us when we were still sinners.
Gospel, Year A. In this Gospel, Jesus offers the woman at the well living water which will banish thirst and well up to eternal life. The baptism motif is very clear. We thank God for the gift of our baptism and the eternal life it brings.
First Reading, Year B. The Ten Commandments – the reading reminds us of the call to a way of life. A good time to examine our consciences.
Second Reading, Year B. Paul is preaching a crucified Christ who is the wisdom of God. “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom.” Whose wisdom do we follow?
Gospel, Year B. The cleansing of the temple. Jesus refers to His death and Resurrection which we are preparing to celebrate with extra solemnity at Easter. What of the cleansing of ourselves?