Reconciliation Lectionary: Psalm 106: 6-10, 13-14, 19-22

mary-the-penitent.jpgThe 106th Psalm is obscure, to say the least. No appearances on Sundays or feasts. Only a few times to sing it on ordinary weekdays. Nothing in the Liturgy of the Hours, 1970’s edition.

One even has to traverse the whole Rite of Penance, and deep into the second appendix to find it. Under sample penitential services, one finds a heading for celebrations during Lent. The first example is given with a theme, “Penance leads to a strengthening of baptismal grace.” Psalm 106 follows this reading and precedes the Gospel account of the lost sheep or the lost son (your option) from Luke 15.

This Psalm as a whole recounts the history of Israel with an emphasis on transgressions. The specific verses apportioned for the Rite of Penance cover the matter referenced in the 95th Psalm. You might remember the “hardened hearts” of that Psalm may also be found in the RCIA Lectionary for the First Scrutiny. The connection to baptism all around: Psalm 95, to 106, seems obvious to me.

The given antiphon sings:

Lord, remember us, for the love you bear your people.

As for the Psalm text, it reads something like an examination of conscience, doesn’t it?

We have sinned like our ancestors;
we have done wrong and are guilty.
Our ancestors in Egypt
did not attend to your wonders.

They did not remember your manifold mercy;
they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.
Yet he saved them for his name’s sake
to make his power known.

He roared at the Red Sea and it dried up.
He led them through the deep as through a desert.
He rescued them from hostile hands,
freed them from the power of the enemy.

But they soon forgot all he had done;
they had no patience for his plan.
In the desert they gave in to their cravings,
tempted God in the wasteland.

At Horeb they fashioned a calf,
worshiped a metal statue.
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bull.

They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Amazing deeds in the land of Ham,
fearsome deeds at the Red Sea.

Memory, and the recovery from the disease of forgetfulness is a good theme for reconciliation. Do we remember we are baptized? Do we remember we are part of a greater faith tradition that stretches back to a wilderness pilgrimage of escaped slaves? Do we remember our ingratitude and unfaithfulness? Or has it all been conveniently forgotten?

As we enter into our Jubilee next month, it might be good to ponder that “manifold mercy” of verse 7.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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