During his catechesis today, Pope John Paul II explained the significance of Psalm 109 as a Messianic hymn, which points to Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.
The Pope gave his catechesis during the general audience at the papal palace in Castel Gandolfo. The focus of the catechesis was on verses 1-5,7 of the Psalm, which are recited during the Liturgy of the Hours.
The Pope explained how both the Jewish and Christian traditions have seen the profile of the Messiah in the image of the king.
There are two parts to the psalm, said the Pope. The first part is a messianic prophecy, which points to the day when Christ will sit at the right hand of God. This prophecy is referred to several times in the New Testament, he pointed out.
The second part makes a priestly reference. Traditionally, explained the Pope, the king also had priestly functions.
The Pope pointed out that in Hebrews (5:10), the priesthood of Jesus is referred to as a priest in the tradition of the order of the Jewish king Melchizedek. From the Christian perspective, the Messiah is the perfect model of priesthood and this perfect priesthood was fully incarnate in Jesus, he said.
The Pope also referred to St. Augustine’s insights on the psalm. All of this had to be prophesied, so that the arrival of the Messiah could be more readily accepted with faith, said St. Augustine. The psalm prophesies, in very clear and explicit terms, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, said St. Augustine.
In this light, the Psalm, the Pope said, becomes a “luminous chant, exalted in the Liturgy, which remembers the death and resurrection of Jesus.”