Scripture Readings for the Third Week of Lent

The Gospels on the coffin of Pope John Paul II, May 1, 2011. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
The Gospels are displayed on the coffin of Pope John Paul II, May 1, 2011. (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

In this, the third week of Lent, we often find our resolution beginning to wane. What would it hurt to have just one piece of chocolate, or one little drink? Maybe I'll watch the news tonight, as long as I don't watch any other TV. I know I said I wouldn't gossip, but this is just too juicy to wait until Easter . . .

The Israelites, too, went through periods when their commitment declined, even as God was guiding them through the desert toward the Promised Land. In the Scripture Readings for the Third Week of Lent, we see God forming His covenant with the Chosen People and confirming it with a blood sacrifice. Yet when Moses goes up on Mount Sinai for 40 days to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites apostatize, asking Aaron to create a golden calf for them to worship.

How easy it is to forget all the good that God has done for us! During these 40 days, we'll be tempted many times to turn our backs on those Lenten disciplines that we adopted to draw us closer to God. If we simply persevere, however, the reward will be great: the grace that comes from dedicating our lives to Christ.

The readings for each day of the Third Week of Lent, found on the following pages, come from the Office of the Readings, part of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church.

Scripture Reading for the Third Sunday of Lent

Albert of of Sternberk's pontifical, Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic
Albert of of Sternberk's pontifical, Strahov Monastery Library, Prague, Czech Republic. Fred de Noyelle/Getty Images

The Book of the Covenant

God's revelation to Moses did not end with the Ten Commandments. The Lord gives other instructions on how the Israelites are to live, and these are known as the Book of the Covenant.

Like the Ten Commandments, these instructions, as part of the Law, are all contained in the great commandment to love God with your whole heart and soul and your neighbor as yourself.

Exodus 22:20-23:9 

[And the Lord said to Moses:]
He that sacrificeth to gods, shall be put to death, save only to the Lord.
Thou shalt not molest a stranger, nor afflict him: for yourselves also were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not hurt a widow or an orphan. If you hurt them they will cry out to me, and I will hear their cry: And my rage shall be enkindled, and I will strike you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor, that dwelleth with thee, thou shalt not be hard upon them as an extortioner, nor oppress them with usuries.
If thou take of thy neighbour a garment in pledge, thou shalt give it him again before sunset. For that same is the only thing wherewith he is covered, the clothing of his body, neither hath he any other to sleep in: if he cry to me, I will hear him, because I am compassionate.
Thou shalt not speak ill of the gods, and the prince of thy people thou shalt not curse.
Thou shalt not delay to pay thy tithes and thy firstfruits: thou shalt give the firstborn of thy sons to me. Thou shalt do the same with the firstborn of thy oxen also and sheep: seven days let it be with its dam, the eighth day thou shalt give it to me.
You shall be holy men to me: the flesh that beasts have tasted of before, you shall not eat, but shall cast it to the dogs.
Thou shalt not receive the voice of a lie: neither shalt thou join thy hand to bear false witness for a wicked person. Thou shalt not follow the multitude to do evil: neither shalt thou yield in judgment, to the opinion of the most part, to stray from the truth. Neither shalt thou favour a poor man in judgment.
If thou meet thy enemy's ox or ass going astray, bring it back to him. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lie underneath his burden, thou shalt not pass by, but shalt lift him up with him.
Thou shalt not go aside in the poor man's judgment.
Thou shalt fly lying. The innocent and just person thou shalt not put to death: because I abhor the wicked. Neither shalt thou take bribes, which even blind the wise, and pervert the words of the just.
Thou shalt not molest a stranger, for you know the hearts of strangers: for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.
  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

Scripture Reading for Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Man thumbing through a Bible
Man thumbing through a Bible. Peter Glass/Design Pics/Getty Images

The Ratification of the Covenant

Israel's covenant with the Lord is confirmed with sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood on the people of Israel. Moses then is called by the Lord to go up on Mount Sinai to receive stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. He spends 40 days and nights with the Lord.

Like Christ in the desert at the beginning of His ministry, Moses begins his role as lawgiver through 40 days of fasting and prayer in the presence of the Lord. The blood sprinkled on the people of Israel foreshadows the blood of the New Covenant, the Blood of Christ, shed on the Cross and made present to us again at every Mass.

Exodus 24:1-18

And he said to Moses: Come up to the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abiu, and seventy of the ancients of Israel, and you shall adore afar off. And Moses alone shall come up to the Lord, but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people come up with him.
So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice: We will do all the words of the Lord, which he hath spoken. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord: and rising in the morning he built an altar at the foot of the mount, and twelve titles according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
And he sent young men of the children of Israel, and they offered holocausts, and sacrificed pacific victims of calves to the Lord. Then Moses took half of the blood, and put it into bowls: and the rest he poured upon the altar. And taking the book of the covenant, he read it in the hearing of the people: and they said: All things that the Lord hath spoken we will do, we will be obedient. And he took the blood and sprinkled it upon the people, and he said: This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abiu, and seventy of the ancients of Israel went up: And they saw the God of Israel: and under his feet as it were a work of sapphire stone, and as the heaven, when clear. Neither did he lay his hand upon those of the children of Israel, that retired afar off, and they saw God, and they did eat and drink.
And the Lord said to Moses: Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and the law, and the commandments which I have written: that thou mayst teach them. Moses rose up, and his minister Josue: and Moses going up into the mount of God, Said to the ancients: Wait ye here till we return to you. You have Aaron and Hur with you: if any question shall arise, you shall refer it to them.
And when Moses was gone up, a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the Lord dwelt upon Sinai, covering it with a cloud six days: and the seventh day he called him out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like a burning fire upon the top of the mount, in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses, entering into the midst of the cloud, went up into the mountain: and he was there forty days, and forty nights.
  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

Scripture Reading for Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

A gold-leaf Bible
A gold-leaf Bible. Jill Fromer/Getty Images

The Golden Calf

Before Moses went up Mount Sinai, the Israelites confirmed their covenant with God. Forty days later, as they waited for Moses to come down, they apostatized and had Aaron create a golden calf, to which they offered their worship. Only Moses' intervention saves the Israelites from God's wrath.

If the Israelites, who had been freed from Egypt and saw the glory of the Lord revealed in the cloud over Mount Sinai, could fall so quickly into sin, how much more diligent should we be to avoid temptation! What idols do we routinely put before God, without even realizing that we are doing so?

Exodus 32:1-20

And the people seeing that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, gathering together against Aaron, said: Arise, make us gods, that may go before us: for as to this Moses, the man that brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what has befallen him. And Aaron said to them: Take the golden earrings from the ears of your wives, and your sons and daughters, and bring them to me.
And the people did what he had commanded, bringing the earrings to Aaron. And when he had received them, he fashioned them by founders' work, and made of them a molten calf. And they said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and made proclamation by a crier's voice, saying: To morrow is the solemnity of the Lord. And rising in the morning, they offered holocausts, and peace victims, and the people sat down to eat, and drink, and they rose up to play.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Go, get thee down: thy people, which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, hath sinned. They have quickly strayed from the way which thou didst shew them: and they have made to themselves a molten calf, and have adored it, and sacrificing victims to it, have said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. And again the Lord said to Moses: See that this people is stiffnecked: Let me alone, that my wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them, and I will make of thee a great nation.
But Moses besought the Lord his God, saying: Why, O Lord, is thy indignation kindled against thy people, whom thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? Let not the Egyptians say, I beseech thee: He craftily brought them out, that he might kill them in the mountains, and destroy them from the earth: let thy anger cease, and be appeased upon the wickedness of thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou sworest by thy own self, saying: I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven: and this whole land that I have spoken of, I will give to you seed, and you shall possess it for ever. And the Lord was appeased from doing the evil which he had spoken against his people.
And Moses returned from the mount, carrying the two tables of the testimony in his hand, written on both sides, And made by the work of God: the writing also of God was graven in the tables.
And Josue hearing the noise of the people shouting, said to Moses: The noise of battle is heard in the camp. But he answered: It is not the cry of men encouraging to fight, nor the shout of men compelling to flee: but I hear the voice of singers. And when he came nigh to the camp, he saw the calf, and the dances: and being very angry, he threw the tables out of his hand, and broke them at the foot of the mount: And laying hold of the calf which they had made, he burnt it, and beat it to powder, which he strowed into water, and gave thereof to the children of Israel to drink.
  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

Scripture Reading for Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Prest With Lectionary
A priest with a lectionary. undefined

God Reveals Himself to Moses

When the Lord revealed Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, He did not show Moses His face. Still, the glory of the Lord was so great that Moses himself reflected in. Coming down from Mount Sinai, his face shone so brightly that he had to cover himself with a veil.

The radiance of Moses reminds us of the Transfiguration, when Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ on Mount Tabor. This radiance reflects an inner transformation that all Christians are called to. The Holy Spirit, through His grace, transforms us into the likeness of God.

Exodus 33:7-11, 18-23; 34:5-9, 29-35

Moses also taking the tabernacle, pitched it without the camp afar off, and called the name thereof, The tabernacle of the covenant. And all the people that had any question, went forth to the tabernacle of the covenant, without the camp.
And when Moses went forth to the tabernacle, all the people rose up, and every one stood in the door of his pavilion, and they beheld the back of Moses, till he went into the tabernacle. And when he was gone into the tabernacle of the covenant, the pillar of the cloud came down, and stood at the door, and he spoke with Moses. And all saw that the pillar of the cloud stood at the door of the tabernacle. And they stood, and worshipped at the doors of their tents. And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man is wont to speak to his friend. And when he returned into the camp, his servant Josue the son of Nun, a young man, departed not from the tabernacle.
And he said: Shew me thy glory. He answered: I will shew thee all good, and I will proclaim in the name of the Lord before thee: and I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please me. And again he said: Thou canst not see my face: for man shall not see me and live. And again he said: Behold there is a place with me, and thou shalt stand upon the rock. And when my glory shall pass, I will set thee in a hole of the rock, and protect thee with my right hand, till I pass: And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face thou canst not see.
And when the Lord was come down in a cloud, Moses stood with him, calling upon the name of the Lord. And when he passed before him, he said: O the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, patient and of much compassion, and true, Who keepest mercy unto thousands: who takest away iniquity, and wickedness, and sin, and no man of himself is innocent before thee. Who renderest the iniquity of the fathers to the children, and to the grandchildren, unto the third and fourth generation. And Moses making haste, bowed down prostrate unto the earth, and adoring, Said: If I have found grace in thy sight: O Lord, I beseech thee, that thou wilt go with us, (for it is a stiffnecked people,) and take away our iniquities and sin, and possess us.
And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near. And being called by him, they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. And after that he spoke to them. And all the children of Israel came to him: and he gave them in commandment all that he had heard of the Lord in mount Sinai.
And having done speaking, he put a veil upon his face. But when he went in to the Lord, and spoke with him, he took it away until he came forth, and then he spoke to the children of Israel all things that had been commanded him. And they saw that the face of Moses when he came out was horned, but he covered his face again, if at any time he spoke to them.
  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

Scripture Reading for Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Old Bible in Latin
Old Bible in Latin. Myron/Getty Images

The Book of Exodus offers two accounts of the Book of the Covenant, and today's reading is the second. We see a restatement of the Ten Commandments and the requirement to celebrate Passover yearly. Most interesting, perhaps, is the fact that Moses fasted for 40 days and nights while the Lord revealed the details of His covenant with the Israelites.

Through his fast, Moses received the Law. Through our fast of 40 days every year, we grow in the grace of Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Law.

Exodus 34:10-28 

The Lord answered: I will make a covenant in the sight of all. I will do signs such as were never seen upon the earth, nor in any nation: that this people, in the midst of whom thou art, may see the terrible work of the Lord which I will do.
Observe all things which this day I command thee: I myself will drive out before thy face the Amorrhite, and the Chanaanite, and the Hethite, and the Pherezite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite. Beware thou never join in friendship with the inhabitants of that land, which may be thy ruin: But destroy their altars, break their statues, and cut down their groves: Adore not any strange god.
The Lord his name is Jealous, he is a jealous God. Make no covenant with the men of those countries lest, when they have committed fornication with their gods, and have adored their idols, some one call thee to eat of the things sacrificed. Neither shalt thou take of their daughters a wife for thy son, lest after they themselves have committed fornication, they make thy sons also to commit fornication with their gods.
Thou shalt not make to thyself any molten gods.
Thou shalt keep the feast of the unleavened bread. Seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee in the time of the month of the new corn: for in the month of the springtime thou camest out from Egypt.
All of the male kind, that openeth the womb, shall be mine. Of all beasts, both of oxen and of sheep, it shall be mine. The firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a sheep: but if thou wilt not give a price for it, it shall be slain. The firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem: neither shalt thou appear before me empty.
Six days shalt thou work, the seventh day thou shalt cease to plough, and to reap.
Thou shalt keep the feast of weeks with the firstfruits of the corn of thy wheat harvest, and the feast when the time of the year returneth that all things are laid in.
Three times in a year all thy males shall appear in the sight of the Almighty Lord the God of Israel. For when I shall have taken away the nations from thy face, and shall have enlarged thy borders, no man shall lie in wait against thy land when thou shalt go up, and appear in the sight of the Lord thy God thrice in a year.
Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice upon leaven: neither shall there remain in the morning any thing of the victim of the solemnity of the Lord.
The first of the fruits of thy ground thou shalt offer in the house of the Lord thy God.
Thou shalt not boil a kid in the milk of his dam.
And the Lord said to Moses: Write these words by which I have made a covenant both with thee and with Israel.
And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights: he neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant.
  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

Scripture Reading for Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Old Bible in English
Old Bible in English. Godong/Getty Images

Today's reading from the Book of Exodus is one of those detailed passages of the Old Testament that we often skip over. But the Church includes it here in the Office of the Readings for Lent for a reason.

Israel, as we have seen, is the Old Testament type of the New Testament Church, and we can see this even in the details of the construction of the sanctuary tent and the Ark of the Covenant, which should remind us of the tabernacles in our churches in which the Body of Christ is reserved.

Exodus 35:30-36:1; 37:1-9

And Moses said to the children of Israel: Behold the Lord hath called by name Beseleel the son of Uri the son of Hur of the tribe of Juda. And hath filled him with the spirit of God, with wisdom and understanding and knowledge and all learning. To devise and to work in gold and silver and brass, And in engraving stones, and in carpenters' work. Whatsoever can be devised artificially, He hath given in his heart: Ooliab also the son of Achisamech of the tribe of Dan: Both of them hath he instructed with wisdom, to do carpenters' work and tapestry, and embroidery in blue and purple, and scarlet twice dyed, and fine linen, and to weave all things, and to invent all new things.
Beseleel, therefore, and Ooliab, and every wise man, to whom the Lord gave wisdom and understanding, to know how to work artificially, made the things that are necessary for the uses of the sanctuary, and which the Lord commanded.
And Beseleel made also the ark of setim wood: it was two cubits and a half in length, and a cubit and a half in breadth, and the height was of one cubit and a half: and he overlaid it with the purest gold within and without. And he made to it a crown of gold round about, Casting four rings of gold at the four corners thereof: two rings in one side, and two in the other. And he made bars of setim wood, which he overlaid with gold, And he put them into the rings that were at the sides of the ark to carry it.
He made also the propitiatory, that is, the oracle, of the purest gold, two cubits and a half in length, and a cubit and a half in breadth. Two cherubims also of beaten gold, which he set on the two sides of the propitiatory: One cherub in the top of one side, and the other cherub in the top of the other side: two cherubims at the two ends of the propitiatory, Spreading their wings, and covering the propitiatory, and looking one towards the other, and towards it.
  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)

Scripture Reading for Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

St. Chad Gospels at Lichfield Cathedral
St. Chad Gospels at Lichfield Cathedral. Philip Game/Getty Images

In today's reading, we see more details about the construction of the sanctuary and the Ark of the Covenant. Once the construction was completed, the Lord descended on the tabernacle in a cloud. The presence of the cloud became the signal for the Israelites to remain in one place. When the cloud lifted, they would move on.

In the tabernacles in our churches, Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament, not only bodily but in His divinity. Traditionally, the tabernacle was placed on the high altar, which faced east, in the direction of the rising sun, signifying Christ leading us to the Promised Land of heaven, as the Lord led the Israelites to an earthly Promised Land.

Exodus 40:16-38

And Moses did all that the Lord had commanded.
So in the first month of the second year, the first day of the month, the tabernacle was set up. And Moses reared it up, and placed the boards and the sockets and the bars, and set up the pillars, And spread the roof over the tabernacle, putting over it a cover, as the Lord had commanded. And he put the testimony in the ark, thrusting bars underneath, and the oracle above. And when he had brought the ark into the tabernacle, he drew the veil before it to fulfil the commandment of the Lord. And he set the table in the tabernacle of the testimony at the north side without the veil, Setting there in order the loaves of proposition, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He set the candlestick also in the tabernacle of the testimony over against the table on the south side, Placing the lamps in order, according to the precept of the Lord.
He set also the altar of gold under the roof of the testimony over against the veil, And burnt upon it the incense of spices, as the Lord had commanded Moses. And he put also the hanging in the entry of the tabernacle of the testimony, And the altar of holocaust of the entry of the testimony, offering the holocaust, and the sacrifices upon it, as the Lord had commanded. And he set the laver between the tabernacle of the testimony and the altar, filling it with water. And Moses and Aaron, and his sons washed their hands and feet, When they went into the tabernacle of the covenant, and went to the altar, as the Lord had commanded Moses. He set up also the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, drawing the hanging in the entry thereof.
After all things were perfected, the cloud covered the tabernacle of the testimony, and the glory of the Lord filled it. Neither could Moses go into the tabernacle of the covenant, the cloud covering all things and the majesty of the Lord shining, for the cloud had covered all.
If at any time the cloud removed from the tabernacle, the children of Israel went forward by their troops: If it hung over, they remained in the same place. For the cloud of the Lord hung over the tabernacle by day, and a fire by night, in the sight of all the children of Israel throughout all their mansions.
  • Source: Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition of the Bible (in the public domain)
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Your Citation
Richert, Scott P. "Scripture Readings for the Third Week of Lent." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Richert, Scott P. (2023, April 5). Scripture Readings for the Third Week of Lent. Retrieved from Richert, Scott P. "Scripture Readings for the Third Week of Lent." Learn Religions. (accessed June 10, 2023).