In his general audience today, held at St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI told gathered pilgrims that the relationship between the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant and God's people in the Old Testament can provide Catholics with a window into their place in the Church in the new covenant and even in the Mass.
This morning's catechesis focused on Psalm 131; the "divine promises made to King David." The Holy Father noted that, according to many scholars, this psalm was sung "during the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant, the sign of the divine presence among the people of Israel", while the nation wandered through the wilderness in preparation to enter the promised land.
This hymn, Pope Benedict went on, "seems to imply a liturgical dimension. It was probably used during processions, in the presence of priests and faithful, and with the participation of a chorus."
In the psalm, King David solemnly vows "not to set foot in the royal palace of Jerusalem, nor to sleep peacefully, if he has not first found a resting place for the Ark of the Covenant." The Pope said that, "At the very center of social life there must, then, be a presence that evokes the mystery of the transcendent God. God and man walk together in history, and the role of the temple is to provide a visible sign of this communion."
The psalm proceeds, he said, "with a joyful celebration which includes, on the one hand, the adoring people, in other words the liturgical assembly, and on the other, the Lord Who returns and is again present and active in the symbol of the ark located in Sion. The heart of the liturgy is in this intersection between priests and faithful on one side, and the Lord and His might on the other."
The Pope also explains that this psalm points beyond itself to Christ, who would come generations later. He noted the psalm's appeal for help on behalf of the sovereign in the trials of life, in which "it is easy to perceive a messianic dimension. ... In fact, the term 'anointed one' translates the Hebrew word 'Messiah'. The gaze of the worshipper thus extends beyond the affairs of the kingdom of Judea and projects itself towards the expectation of the perfect 'Anointed One,' the Messiah."