My Catholic liturgy peeps know that the 95th Psalm is one of the nine common psalms for the Ordinary Time Lectionary for Mass. People familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours pray it daily in the Invitatory. You RCIA geeks will recall it is used in the Lectionary attached to the First Scrutiny. Third Lenten Sunday, cycle A. Maybe your parish will be doing it this coming weekend.
I might use this psalm for a Lenten penance service. A liturgy prep team could do worse than starting with a good musical setting and building the Liturgy of the Word from there. In my thinking, the text is as powerful as most any choice of Gospel:
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
cry out to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with a song of praise,
joyfully sing out our psalms.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great king over all gods,
Whose hand holds the depths of the earth;
who owns the tops of the mountains.
The sea and dry land belong to God,
who made them, formed them by hand.
Enter, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
we are the people he shepherds,
the sheep in his hands.
Because of these verses, this Psalm is attached to the Ordinary Time Lectionary as a common psalm. It also is the most frequently utilized of the four choices for a psalm in the Liturgy of the Hours’ Invitatory rites. God saves people. God is an all-powerful Creator. God guides people. Therefore we worship.
These verses are likely why the psalm is in the Rite of Penance:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,
as on the day of Massah in the desert.
God delivered an enslaved people from Pharoah and his military might. Shortly afterward, they forgot their recent rescue and complained. In their newfound freedom, they forged a new god to idolize. The worshipers then sing from God’s viewpoint:
There your ancestors tested me;
they tried me though they had seen my works.
Forty years I loathed that generation;
I said: “This people’s heart goes astray;
they do not know my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my anger:
“They shall never enter my rest.”
Does it foster deeper fidelity or contrition for us to put the words of God on our own singing lips? Ponder your sins from my point of view, God suggests. Perhaps while we are at it, we can consider our sins from the point of view of loved ones and friends who suffer because of our transgressions. Are we ready for a moment of truth like that, a personal Meribah and Massah?