Psalm for the 5th Sunday of Lent (A)

Psalm 130:1-8

The responsorial psalm for today’s celebration comes from Psalm 130, a Penitential Psalm, which has hope in divine forgiveness as its main theme.

This psalm is traditionally known as the De profundis (“Out of the depths”) from its opening words in Latin. It is used in liturgical prayers for the faithful departed.

In deep sorrow, the psalmist cries to God, asking for mercy. The psalmist’s trust in God becomes a model for the people.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; LORD, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.

The psalmist calls on God to listen.

What is translated as “out of the depths” is literally “out of the abyss.” This could refer to death (as in Psalm 18:4-5 or Psalm 69:2) or to the depths of human conscience.

Regardless of the specific meaning intended, this is metaphorical language for total misery.

If you, O LORD, mark iniquities, LORD, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered.

The psalmist admits that every human being is a sinner, and that God, by forgiving sin, shows himself to be so much greater than man.

I trust in the LORD; my soul trusts in his word.

The experience of God’s mercy leads one to a greater sense of God.

More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the LORD.

God has promised forgiveness (Exodus 34:6-7), and the psalmist is relying on that promise; he is confident that forgiveness will come — as sure as a watchman is that dawn will come (Isaiah 21:11-12).

For with the LORD is kindness and with him is plenteous redemption; and he will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

The call to the people to hope in the LORD is in line with the psalmist’s conviction. The reasons given here for that hope (“kindness” and “redemption”) are the divine attributes manifested in the Covenant (Deuteronomy 7:8, 9:4-5, etc.).

That is what God is like; therefore, he will pardon all his people’s sins.

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