Reconciliation Lectionary: Psalm 119:1, 10-13, 15-16

mary-the-penitent.jpgThe massive 119th Psalm, a poetic treatise on the Law–perhaps even a love song to it–offers up verse one as an antiphon:

Happy are they who follow the law of the Lord.

… and six select verses from the Beth section arranged into three stanzas:

With all my heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
In my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes.
With my lips I recite
all the judgments you have spoken.

I will ponder your precepts
and consider your paths.
In your statutes I take delight;
I will never forget your word.

What is the “promise” mentioned in verse 11? In both the revised Grail and the NRSV, the idea is rendered, “I treasure your word in my heart.” All I know about it is that the feminine ‘imrah is often translated as “word.” Along with the verb to treasure which has a connotation of protection shading into hoarding, is there some male/female overtone to the notion, some intimacy of the God-believer relationship? If so, not a common theme in the Catholic understanding of penance. Is such intimacy enough of a bulwark against sin? That seems hopeful.

Overall, the sense of this second part of Psalm 119 is one of adherence to the Law. That rather reinforces the juridical side of Catholic sacramental practice. It is part of our tradition.

I’m unaware of any mainstream setting of this set of verses. Anybody among the readers know of one?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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