Twenty thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square this morning to hear Pope Benedict’s weekly general audience in which he expounded on God’s faithfulness and mercy, particularly toward the small and vulnerable.
The Holy Father continued his ongoing catechesis on the Psalms, speaking today about Psalm 137, called, "a hymn of thanksgiving."
He began by quoting the psalmist, who "raises his voice before the Temple assembly or, at least, having the Shrine of Zion as a reference. ... He sings before God Who is in heaven with His host of angels, but Who also listens within the earthly space of the Temple."
The writer is certain, the Pope noted “that the 'name' of the Lord - in other words His personal, living and active reality and His virtues of faithfulness and mercy - are the ... bastion of all faith and all hope.”
“The psalmist's gaze”, he said, “…goes back for an instant to the past, to the day of suffering, when the divine voice answered the faithful's anguished cry, infusing courage into his troubled soul."
"Following this apparently personal premise," the Holy Father continued, "the psalmist extends his gaze to the earth and imagines his testimony incorporating the entire horizon: 'All the kings of the earth' ... join the Jewish psalmist in a common hymn of praise in honor of the greatness and regal power of the Lord."
The themes of this chorus of praise, the Pope explained, are "the 'glory' and the 'ways' of the Lord.”
“God”, he said, “is clearly 'high' and transcendent, but He 'regards the lowly' with affection while removing the haughty from His sight.”
For this reason, the Pope said, “God chooses to defend the weak, the victims, the smallest;” and he pointed out that “this fact is conveyed to all kings that they might know which option to choose in governing their nations."
As he closed his teaching, Benedict showed that in the Psalm’s conclusion, the writer implores the Lord for his help in the trails of life and the wrath of Israel’s enemies.
This, he said, is "a kind of symbol of the hostility the just may face during their journey through history."
"We must be certain," he added, "that however burdensome and stormy are the trials that await us, we will never be left alone, we will never fall from the Lord's hands, the hands that created us and that now follow us on life's itinerary.”
In conclusion, the Pope cited St. Paul, who assures his own readers in his letter to the Philippians that, “He Who began a good work in you will bring it to completion."