Psalm 19: The Law

Third Sunday of Lent

March 7, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19.

Those of you who click through to our daily readings on the USCCB website may notice that two sets of readings are offered for this 3rd Sunday in Lent. The alternative set is for a Mass which incorporates “The Scrutinies”.

“The Scrutinies” are part of the process of admitting adults into the Catholic Church which typically takes place throughout Lent and culminates in Easter Baptism. 

There are several steps in the admission process beginning with discernment and in-depth education. The Scrutinies occur near the end, during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. As the name indicates, these exercises have us look deep into our hearts and souls for the healing and forgiveness we need in faith.


However, most of us attending this Sunday’s liturgy will hear the Year B readings which center on LAW and how our developing faith understands it.


For the ancient Israelites, as Exodus tells us, that understanding took the form of a specified discipline in the Ten Commandments.

For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, 
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness 
on the children of those who reproach me …

Exodus 20:5

In our second reading, Paul preaches a new understanding of Law – the Law of Sacrificial Love revealed in the sacred contradiction of Cross.

… but we proclaim Christ crucified, 
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, 
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1: 23-25

And in our Gospel, Jesus confronts those whose faith is hardened against the new Law which he embodies:

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 
many began to believe in his name 
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, 
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

John 2:23-25

Our psalm offers us an opportunity to “scrutinize” the sincerity of this prayer in our own hearts:


Poetry: As Kingfishers Catch Fire Gerard Manley Hopkins sees the law as acting in God’s eye…

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves–goes itself; _myself_ it speaks and spells,
Crying _Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is–
Chríst–for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Music: The Law of the Lord is Perfect

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