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God is never far from the persecuted, says Pope Benedict
By David Kerr

.- Pope Benedict XVI said Sept. 14 that Christians should continue to call upon God even in times of trial, when he may seem distant.

“The shadow of the Cross gives way to the bright hope of the Resurrection,” the Pope told pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall for his weekly audience.

“We too, when we call upon him in times of trial, must place our trust in the God who brings salvation, who conquers death with the gift of eternal life.”

The Pope drew his observations from Psalm 22, which he described as “a heartfelt prayer of lamentation from one who feels abandoned by God.”

The writer of the psalm is “surrounded by enemies who are persecuting him,” and so he “cries out by day and by night for help, and yet God seems to remain silent.”
 
“My God , my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” is the cry of the psalmist to the Almighty.
 
Pope Benedict explained how the writer is despairing of the Lord rescuing him even though “the people of Israel called trustingly upon the Lord in times of trial, and he answered their prayer,” and in his own life “the Lord cared for him personally in his earlier life, as a child in his mother’s womb, as an infant in his mother’s arms.”

“Despite such adverse circumstances, though,” observed the Pope, “the psalmist’s faith and trust in the Lord remains.” So much so that he “ends on a note of confidence, as God’s name is praised before all the nations.”

The Pope said this is also the attitude all Christians should learn to have in times of near despair.

The best example of this trust in God the Father, said the Pope, is Jesus Christ himself, who also utters the words of Psalm 22 as he hangs on the cross of Calvary.

“He too seems to have been abandoned to a cruel fate,” noted the Pope, “while his enemies mock him, attacking him like ravenous and roaring lions, dividing his clothing among them as if he were already dead.”

Yet in his passion on Good Friday “in obedience the Father, the Lord Jesus, through abandonment and death, comes to give life and give it to all believers.”
 
Thus, by praying the “heartfelt and touching” Psalm 22, the individual Christian is brought to the foot of the Cross of Christ “to live out his passion and share the fruitful joy of the resurrection.”

Pope Benedict concluded the audience by imparting his apostolic blessing, before returning by helicopter to his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles south of Rome.


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April 23, 2014

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