Pope Benedict XVI- General Audiences
"The Lord is faithful in all his words"
Psalm 145: 14-21
H.H. Benedict XVI
February 8, 2006
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
1. Following the liturgy that divides it into two parts, let us
return to , a wonderful hymn in honour of the Lord, a loving King
who is attentive to his creatures. Let us now meditate upon the
second part of the Psalm: they are verses 14 to 21, which take up
the fundamental theme of the hymn's first part.
In them are exalted the divine compassion, tenderness, fidelity and
goodness which are extended to the whole of humanity, involving
every creature. The Psalm now focuses on the love that the Lord
reserves particularly for the poor and the weak.
Divine kingship is not, therefore, detached and haughty, as can be
the case in the exercise of human power. God expresses his
sovereignty by bending down to meet the frailest and most helpless
of his creatures.
2. Indeed, he is first and foremost a father who supports those who
falter and raises those who have fallen into the dust of humiliation
(cf. v. 14). Consequently, living beings are reaching out to the
Lord like hungry beggars and he gives them, like a tender parent,
the food they need to survive (cf. v. 15).
At this point the profession of faith in justice and holiness, the
two divine qualities par excellence, emerges from the lips of the
person praying: "The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all
his deeds" (cf. v. 17).
In Hebrew we have two typical adjectives to illustrate the Covenant
between God and his People: saadiq and
hasid. They express justice that seeks to save and to liberate
from evil, and the faithfulness that is a sign of the Lord's loving
3. The Psalmist takes the side of those who have benefited, whom he
describes in various words: in practice, these terms portray true
believers. They "call on" the Lord in trusting prayer, they seek him
in life with a sincere heart (cf. v. 18); they "fear" their God,
respecting his will and obeying his word (cf. v. 19), but above all
"love" him, certain that he will take them under the mantle of his
protection and his closeness (cf. v. 20).
Then, the Psalmist's closing words are the ones with which he opened
his hymn: an invitation to praise and bless the Lord and his
"name", that is, as a living and holy Person who works and saves in
the world and in history.
Indeed, his call is an assurance that every creature marked by the
gift of life associates himself or herself with the prayerful
praise: "Let all mankind bless his holy name for ever, for ages
unending" (v. 21). This is a sort of perennial hymn that must be
raised from earth to heaven; it is a community celebration of God's
universal love, source of peace, joy and salvation.
4. To conclude our reflection, let us return to that sweet verse
which says: "[The Lord] is close to all who call him, who call on
him from their hearts" (v. 18). This sentence was particularly dear
to Barsanuphius of Gaza, an ascetic who died in the mid-sixth
century, to whom monks, ecclesiastics and lay people would often
turn because of the wisdom of his discernment.
Thus, for example, to one disciple who expressed his desire "to seek
the causes of the various temptations that assailed him",
Barsanuphius responded: "Brother John, do not fear any of the
temptations that come to test you, for the Lord will not let you
fall prey to them. So, whenever one of these temptations comes to
you, do not tire yourself by endeavouring to discern what is at
stake, but cry out Jesus' Name: "Jesus, help me!'. And he will hear
you, for he "is close to all who call on him'. Do not be
discouraged, but run on with enthusiasm and you will reach the
destination in Christ Jesus, Our Lord" (Barsanuphius and John of
Gaza, Epistolario, 39: Collana di Testi Patristici, XCIII,
Rome, 1991, p. 109).
And these words of the ancient Father also apply to us. In our
difficulties, problems, temptations, we must not simply make a
theoretical reflection - where do they come from? - but must react
positively; we must call on the Lord, we must keep alive our contact
with the Lord. Indeed, we must cry out the Name of Jesus: "Jesus,
And let us be certain that he hears us, because he is close to those
who seek him. Let us not feel discouraged, but let us run on with
enthusiasm, as this Father says, and we too will reach the
destination of our lives: Jesus, the Lord.
To Special Groups
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at
this Audience, especially those from Ireland and the United States
of America. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord's Blessings of health
I then greet you, dear Bishops taking part in the International
Meeting organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio, and I hope that
these days of reflection and prayer will be fruitful for the
ministry you are called to carry out in your Dioceses.
Lastly, my thoughts turn to the young people, the sick
and the newly-weds. Today, we are celebrating the liturgical
memorial of St Jerome Emiliani, Founder of the Order of Clerics
Regular of Somaschi, and St Josephine Bakhita, a particularly
lovable saint. May the courage of these two faithful witnesses of
Christ help you, dear young people, to open your hearts to
the heroism of holiness in daily life. May it sustain you, dear
sick people, in persevering patiently and in offering your
prayer and suffering for the whole Church. And may it give you, dear
newly-weds, the courage to make your families communities of
love, filled with Christian values.
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