Most parishes are already aware that the scrutiny readings assigned to Year A on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent should be used in Years B and C when the scrutiny rites are celebrated within Mass. However, the Liturgy Office is sometimes asked if parishes may use these same readings in Years B and C at Masses where there is no scrutiny. This question usually arises out of a concern related to using different readings from one Mass to the next on the same Sunday, and the resulting need to prepare additional homilies and musical selections. An answer to this common question may be found in the Lectionary at the beginning of the readings for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year B (Lectionary #29B). There, the rubric reads: “The readings given for Year A, n. 28, may be used in place of these.” This same rubric appears at the beginning of the readings for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent, for Years B and C.
The three readings from John’s Gospel in Year A — the woman at the well, the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus — focus on the themes of conversion, healing, and the promise of eternal life. Bearing in mind the relevance of these themes for those preparing for Christian Initiation, and for all the baptized during Lent, the Church permits the readings from Years B and C to be substituted with the Year A (scrutiny) readings, even in those Masses where the scrutinies are not celebrated. This option allows a celebrant to prepare just one homily on these Sundays, in which he can draw the community’s attention to the intentions of those who are preparing to receive baptism at the Easter Vigil, while emphasizing that spiritual conversion is an ongoing process throughout one’s life, and is rightly the focus of all Christians during the Lenten season.