Third Sunday of Lent is called Oculi, from the first word of the Introit. In the primitive Church, it was called Scrutiny-Sunday, because it was on this day that they began to examine the Catechumens, who were to he admitted to Baptism on Easter night. All the Faithful were invited to assemble in the Church, in order that they might bear testimony to the good life and morals of the candidates. At Rome, these examinations, which where called the Scrutinies, were made on seven different occasions, on account of the great number of the aspirants to Baptism; but the principal Scrutiny was that held on the Wednesday of the Fourth Week We will speak of it later on. The Roman Sacramentary of St. Gelasius gives us the form, in which the Faithful were convoked to these assemblies. It is as follows. “Dearly beloved Brethren: you know that the day of Scrutiny, when our elect are to receive the holy instruction, is at hand. We invite you, therefore, to be zealous and assemble on N., (here, the day was mentioned,) at the hour of Sext; that so we may be able, by the divine aid, to achieve without error, the heavenly mystery, whereby is opened the gate of the kingdom of heaven, and the devil is excluded with all his pomps.” The invitation was repeated, if needed, on each of the following Sundays. The Scrutiny of this Sunday ended in the admission of a certain number of candidates: their names were written down, and put on the Diptychs of the Altar, that they might be mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. The same also was done with the names of their Sponsors. The Station was, and still is, in the Basilica of Saint Laurence outside the walls. The name of this, the most celebrated of the Martyrs of Rome, would remind the Catechumens, that the Faith they were about to profess, would require them to be ready for many sacrifices.
Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court: those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger than he come upon him and overcome him: he will take away all his armor wherein he trusted and will distribute his spoils. lie that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest: and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there.. And the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. And it came to pass as He spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd lifting up her voice said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
What are we to understand here by the dumb devil? The evil spirit, who so controls those of whom he has possession that they are dumb, and through a false shame keep away from confession.
By what power did Christ cast out the devil? By His divine power, which worked so suddenly and per fectly that the possessed was at once freed and able to speak.
How did Christ show the Jews that He did not cast out devils by Beelzebub?
1. By the parable in which He explains to them that the kingdom of Satan cannot stand if one evil spirit is cast out by another.
2. By pointing to their own children, some of whom were enabled to cast out devils by the power they had received from God (Mark ix. 37, 38).
3. By His whole life, and His works, which were in direct opposition to the devil.
A number of the Psalms and other scriptural canticles praise God for giving His people victory in battle and ask for God’s assistance.