Pope Benedict XVI- Audiences
“Deliver us, O Lord”
August 17, 2005
Dear Brothers and
1. Listening to the
words of Psalm 126, one has the impression of seeing before
one's eyes the event of the "new Exodus" that is sung of in the
second part of the Book of Isaiah: the return of Israel from the
Babylonian Exile to the land of her fathers after the edict of the
Persian King Cyrus in 538 B.C. It was thus a repetition of the
joyful experience of the first Exodus, when the Jewish people were
released from slavery in Egypt.
This Psalm acquired
special significance when it was sung on the days when Israel felt
threatened and afraid because she was once again being put to the
test. Effectively, the Psalm contains a prayer for the return of the
captives of that time (cf. v. 4). Thus, it became a prayer of the
People of God in their historical wanderings, fraught with dangers
and trials but ever open to trust in God the Saviour and Liberator,
the support of the weak and the oppressed.
2. The Psalm
introduces us into an atmosphere of exultation: people were
laughing, celebrating their new-found freedom, and songs of joy were
on their lips (cf. vv.1-2.)There is a twofold reaction to the
On the one hand,
the heathen nations recognized the greatness of the God of Israel:
"What marvels the Lord worked for them!" (v. 2). The salvation of
the Chosen People becomes a clear proof of the effective and
powerful existence of God, present and active in history.
On the other hand,
it is the People of God who profess their faith in the Lord who
saves: "What marvels the Lord worked for us!" (v. 3).
3. Our thoughts
then turn to the past, relived with a shudder of fear and
affliction. Let us focus our attention on the agricultural image
used by the Psalmist: "Those who are sowing in tears will sing when
they reap" (v. 5). Under the burden of work, their faces are
sometimes lined with tears: the sowing is laborious, perhaps doomed
to uselessness and failure. But with the coming of the abundant,
joyful harvest, they discover that their suffering has borne fruit.
The great lesson on
the mystery of life's fruitfulness that suffering can contain is
condensed in this Psalm, just as Jesus said on the threshold of his
passion and death: "Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and
dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces
much fruit" (Jn 12: 24).
4. Thus, the
horizon of the Psalm opens to the festive harvest, a symbol of joy
born from the freedom, peace and prosperity that are fruits of the
divine blessing. This prayer, then, is a song of hope to turn back
to when one is immersed in moments of trial, fear, threats and inner
But it can also
become a more general appeal to live one's days and make one's
decisions in an atmosphere of faithfulness. In the end, perseverance
in good, even if it is misunderstood and opposed, always reaches a
landing place of light, fruitfulness and peace.
This is what St
Paul reminded the Galatians: "If [a man] sows in the field of the
flesh, he will reap a harvest of corruption; but if his seed-ground
is the spirit, he will reap everlasting life. Let us not grow weary
of doing good; if we do not relax our efforts, in due time we shall
reap our harvest" (Gal 6: 8-9).
5. Let us end with
a reflection on Psalm 126 by St Bede the Venerable (672/3-735),
commenting on the words by which Jesus announced to his disciples
the sorrow that lay in store for them, and at the same time the joy
that would spring from their affliction (cf. Jn 16: 20).
Bede recalls that
"Those who loved Christ were weeping and mourning when they saw him
captured by his enemies, bound, carried away for judgment,
condemned, scourged, mocked and lastly crucified, pierced by the
spear and buried. Instead, those who loved the world rejoiced...
when they condemned to a most ignominious death the One of whom the
sight alone they could not tolerate. The disciples were overcome by
grief at the death of the Lord, but once they had learned of his
Resurrection, their sorrow changed to joy; then when they had seen
the miracle of the Ascension, they praised and blessed the Lord,
filled with even greater joy, as the Evangelist Luke testified (cf.
Lk 24: 53).
"But the Lord's
words can be applied to all the faithful who, through the tears and
afflictions of this world, seek to arrive at eternal jubilation and
rightly weep and grieve now, because they cannot yet see the One
they love and because they know that while they are in the body they
are far from the Homeland and the Kingdom, even if they are certain
that they will reach it with their efforts and struggles. Their
sorrow will change into joy when, after the struggle of this life,
they receive the reward of eternal life, as the Psalm says: "Those
who are sowing in tears will sing when they reap' (Homily on the
Gospel, 2, 13: Collana dei Testi Patristici, XC, Rome,
1990, pp. 379-380).
[At the end of
his Catechesis, the Holy Father expressed his deep sorrow at the
death of Bro. Roger Schutz, founder of the Taizé Community, who was
stabbed on Tuesday, 16 August, by a woman:]
We have talked
together of sorrow and joy. In fact, this morning I received some
very sad, tragic news. At Vespers yesterday evening [Tuesday, 16
August], beloved Bro. Roger Schutz, Founder of the Taizé Community,
was stabbed and killed by a woman who was probably insane.
This news is an
especially heavy blow because only yesterday I received a very
touching and friendly letter from Bro. Roger. In it, he wrote that
in the depths of his heart he was intending to tell me that "we are
in communion with you and with those who have gathered in Cologne".
He then wrote that because of his health he would unfortunately be
unable to come in person to Cologne, but would be present in spirit,
with his brethren.
At the end of this
letter he told me that he wanted to come as soon as possible to Rome
to meet me and tell me that "our Community of Taizé wants to journey
on in communion with the Holy Father". And he then wrote in his own
hand: "Holy Father, I assure you of my sentiments of deep communion.
Bro. Roger of Taizé".
At this moment of
grief, we can only entrust to the Lord's goodness the soul of this
faithful servant of his. We know that joy will be born from sorrow -
as we have just heard in the Psalm: Bro. Roger Schutz is in the
hands of eternal goodness, eternal love; he has arrived at eternal
He recommends to
us, he urges us always to be faithful workers in the Lord's
vineyard, even in sorrowful situations, certain that the Lord
accompanies us and will give us his joy.
I extend a warm welcome to all the
English-speaking visitors here today. I greet particularly the
following groups: the Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the
Immaculate Conception; from Malta, the parents of altar servers
assisting in St Peter's Basilica; from Nigeria, pilgrims to several
shrines of Europe and the Holy Land; from Japan, a group of Salesian
Sisters; and from the United States of America, a youth pilgrimage
from Saint Paul's Parish, Houston, Texas. I invite you to join me
during these days in praying for the success of the
World Youth Day in Cologne. I wish you all
a happy stay and invoke upon you the grace and peace of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ!
The Holy Father then led the prayer of the "Our Father" and imparted
the Apostolic Blessing.
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