.- Remembering the late John Paul II on what would have been his 85th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI today, greeted nearly 25,000 soggy pilgrims on a rain-soaked Roman morning, reminding them of Godâs desire to comfort the lowly and the suffering. At the beginning of his weekly Wednesday audience in St. Peterâs Square, the Holy Father recalled, "our beloved Pope John Paul II would have been 85.â
âWe are certainâ, he said, âthat he is watching us from on high and that he is with us. We wish to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of this great Pope, and for everything he did and suffered."
The Pope then took up the weekly catechesis, begun by his predecessor, commenting on Psalm 112, "Praise the name of the Lord."
Pope Benedict explained that this line of the psalmist "exalts the freedom from slavery" of the people of Israel, and their joy over "serving the Lord in liberty."
He said that the first part of the psalm, "praises the 'name of the Lord,' which in biblical language indicates the person of God Himself, His living and active presence in human history. ... All being and all time, 'from the rising of the sun to its setting,' is involved in a single act of thanksgiving."
The second part of the psalm, the Pope explained, celebrates "the Lord's transcendence. ... The divine gaze takes in all of reality, both earthly and heavenly beings. Yet His eye is not arrogant or aloof like that of some cold-hearted emperor."
Expanding on this point, he pointed out that, "the Lord stoops attentively to our smallness and indigence. ... With His loving gaze and His effective commitment towards the lowest and most wretched of the world, 'He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap.'â
âGod bends down,â he said, âto the needy and the suffering to console them. ... The psalmist praises a God very different from us in His greatness, yet at the same time very close to His creatures who are suffering."
Moving to the New Testament, Pope Benedict demonstrated that the psalm foreshadows "the words of Mary in the Magnificat, the canticle of the choice of God, Who 'contemplates the humility of His servant.'â
âIn a more radical way than in our psalm,â he concluded, âMary proclaims that God 'has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree'."