Pope Benedict XVI- Audiences
“Have mercy on us”
June 15, 2005
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
have suffered under the rain. Let us hope that the weather will now
1. Jesus very
vigorously affirms in the Gospel that the eyes are an expressive
symbol of the innermost self, a mirror of the soul (cf. Mt 6:
22-23). Well, Psalm 123, which has just been proclaimed, is the
focal point of an exchange of glances: the faithful person lifts his
eyes to the Lord, awaiting a divine reaction, ready to glimpse a
gesture of love or a look of kindness. We too, as it were, raise our
eyes and await a gesture of benevolence from the Lord.
The gaze of the
Most High who "looks down on the sons of men to see if any are wise,
if any seek God" (Ps 14: 2), is often mentioned in the Psalter.
The Psalmist, as we have heard, uses an image, that of the servant
and slave who look to their master, waiting for him to make a
decision that will set them free.
Even if this scene
is connected with the ancient world and its social structures, the
idea is clear and full of meaning: the image taken from the world of
the ancient East is intended to exalt the attachment of the poor,
the hope of the oppressed and the availability of the just to the
2. The person of
prayer is waiting for the divine hands to move because they will act
justly and destroy evil. This is why, in the Psalter, the one
praying raises his hope-filled eyes to the Lord. "My eyes are always
on the Lord; for he rescues my feet from the snare" (Ps 25: 15),
while "My eyes are wasted away from looking for my God" (Ps 69:
Psalm 123 is
an entreaty in which the voice of one of the faithful joins that of
the whole community: indeed, the Psalm passes from the first person
singular, "I lifted up my eyes", to the first person plural, "our
eyes" and "show us his mercy" (cf. vv. 1-3). The Psalmist expresses
the hope that the Lord will open his hands to lavish his gifts of
justice and freedom upon us. The just person waits for God's gaze to
reveal itself in all its tenderness and goodness, as one reads in
the ancient priestly blessing from the Book of Numbers: "The Lord
make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you: the Lord
lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace!" (Nm 6: 25-26).
3. The great
importance of God's loving gaze is revealed in the second part of
the Psalm which features the invocation: "Have mercy on us, Lord,
have mercy" (Ps 123: 3), that comes in continuity with the
finale of the first part in which trusting expectation is
reaffirmed, "till [the Lord our God] show us his mercy" (cf. v. 2).
The faithful are in
need of God's intervention because they are in a painful plight,
suffering the contempt and disdain of overbearing people. The image
the Psalmist uses here is that of satiety: "We are filled with
contempt. Indeed, all too full is our soul with the scorn of the
rich, with the proud man's disdain" (vv. 3-4).
biblical fullness of food and years, considered a sign of divine
blessing, is now countered by an intolerable satiety composed of an
excessive load of humiliations. And we know today that many nations,
many individuals, are truly burdened with derision, with the
contempt of the rich and the disdain of the proud. Let us pray for
them and let us help these humiliated brethren of ours.
Thus, the righteous
have entrusted their cause to the Lord; he is not indifferent to
their beseeching eyes nor does he ignore their plea - and ours - or
disappoint their hope.
4. To conclude, let
us make room for the voice of St Ambrose, the great Archbishop of
Milan who, in the Psalmist's spirit, gives poetical rhythm to the
work of God that reaches us through Jesus the Saviour: "Christ is
everything for us. If you wish to cure a wound, he is doctor; if you
burn with fever, he is fountain; if you are oppressed by iniquity,
he is justice; if you are in need of help, he is strength; if you
fear death, he is life; if you desire heaven, he is the way; if you
flee from darkness, he is light; if you seek food, he is
nourishment" (La verginità, 99: SAEMO, XIV/2, Milan-Rome,
1989, p. 81).
I extend a special
welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including
groups from England, Nigeria, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Canada and
the United States of America. I thank you for the affection with
which you have greeted me. May you have a happy stay in Rome! Upon
all of you, I invoke the peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord!
Lastly, as usual my
thoughts turn to the young people, the sick and the
newly-weds. I wish you all that true joy which flows from daily
fidelity to God and docile obedience to his will.
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- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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