.- Speaking to some 26,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for today's general audience, Pope Benedict demonstrated how God's closeness to the people of Israel through the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant paved the way to the Messiah who was to come and "dwell among us." The Pope focused his reflections on the second part of Psalm 131, "the choice of David and of Zion," a canticle which, he said, "evokes a crucial event in the history of Israel: the transfer of the Ark of the Lord to the city of Jerusalem."
Pope Benedict noted that King David "had made a vow not to dwell in the royal palace if he had not first found a resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, the sign of the presence of the Lord alongside His people."
"That oath of the king", the Pope said, "is now answered by God's own promise: 'the Lord swore to David a sure oath from which He will not turn back'."
The Holy Father explained that "the promise and the gift of God ... must find a response in mankind's faithful and active adherence, in a dialogue that integrates two freedoms: the divine and the human."
The psalm, he said, then "becomes a hymn exalting the marvelous effects both of the gift of the Lord and of the faithfulness of Israel. In fact, the Lord's presence among the people will be felt: He will be like one more inhabitant among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, like a citizen who, with other citizens, experiences the events of history, yet offering the power of His blessing."
The Pope said that not only is the meaning of the Psalm valuable in and of itself, but at its heart, it points us to the coming of the Christ--God, come to be with His people in a new way.
In this second part of the psalm, as in the first, he said, there appears "the figure of the 'Anointed One,' in Hebrew 'Messiah,' thus linking descent from David to Messianism which, in the Christian re-reading, is fulfilled in the figure of Christ."
"Psalm 131", he points out, "becomes, then, a celebration of God-Emmanuel Who remains with His creatures, living with them and benefiting them, so long as they remain united to Him in truth and justice. The spiritual core of this hymn is already a prelude to St. John's proclamation: 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us'."