Pope Benedict XVI- Audiences
“My Crown Shall Shine”
September 21, 2005
1. We have just heard the second part of Psalm 132, a hymn that
recalls a major event in Israel's history: the transfer of the Ark
of the Lord to the city of Jerusalem.
David was responsible for this transfer, as the psalmist testifies
in the first part of the Psalm we have already seen. Indeed, the
king had sworn not to take up residence in the royal palace until he
had found a permanent dwelling place for the Ark of God, a sign of
the Lord's presence with his people (cf. vv. 3-5).
In response to the sovereign's oath, God in turn takes an oath: "The
Lord swore an oath to David; he will not go back on his word" (v.
11). This solemn promise is essentially the same one that the
Prophet Nathan swore in God's name to David himself; it concerns the
future of David's descendants, destined to reign for ever (cf. II Sm
2. The divine oath, however, involves a human commitment inasmuch as
it is conditioned by an "if": if your sons "keep my covenant" (Ps
Men and women must respond with faithful and active loyalty to God's
promise and gift, which have nothing magic about them, in a dialogue
in which are interwoven two freedoms, the divine and the human.
At this point, the Psalm becomes a hymn that extols the marvelous
effects of both the gift of the Lord and the fidelity of Israel.
In fact, Israel will experience God's presence in the midst of his
people (cf. vv. 13-14): he will be like an inhabitant among the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, a citizen who lives the events of history
with the other citizens, but who offers the power of his blessing.
3. God will bless the harvest and see to it that the poor can
satisfy their hunger (cf. v. 15). He will clothe priests with his
protective mantle, offering them his salvation; he will ensure that
all the faithful live in joy and trust (cf. v. 16).
The greatest blessing is once again reserved for David and his
descendants: "There David's stock will flower: I will prepare a lamp
for my anointed. I will cover his enemies with shame, but on him my
crown shall shine" (vv. 17-18).
As happened in the first part of the Psalm (cf. v. 10), the figure
of the "anointed" One, in Hebrew, "Messiah", once again makes his
entrance, thereby binding the house of David to messianism, which in
the Christian interpretation reaches complete fulfillment in Christ.
Lively images are used: David is represented by a shoot that will
flourish. God illumines David's descendants with a shining lamp, a
symbol of vitality and glory; a splendid crown will indicate his
triumph over his enemies, hence, victory over evil.
4. The twofold presence of the Lord, his presence in space and in
history, is actuated in Jerusalem, in the temple that preserves the
Ark, and in the Davidic dynasty. Psalm 132 therefore becomes a
celebration of the God-Emmanuel who is with his creatures, who lives
beside them and benefits them, as long as they stay united to him in
truth and justice.
The spiritual centre of this hymn is already a prelude to the
Joannine proclamation: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling
among us" (Jn 1: 14).
5. Let us end by remembering that the beginning of this second part
of Psalm 132 was commonly used by the Fathers of the Church to
describe the Incarnation of the Word in the Virgin Mary's womb.
St Irenaeus, referring to the prophecy of Isaiah about the Virgin in
labour, had already explained:
"The words: "Listen, then, O house of David!' (Is 7: 13), indicate
that the eternal King, whom God had promised David would be "the
fruit of [his] body' (132: 11), was the same One, born of the
Virgin and descended from David.
"Thus, God promised him that a king would be born who was "the fruit
of [his] body', a description that indicates a pregnant virgin.
Scripture, therefore,... sets down and affirms the fruit of the womb
to proclaim that the One to come would be begotten of the Virgin.
"Likewise, Elizabeth herself, filled with the Holy Spirit,
testified, saying to Mary: "Blessed are you among women and blessed
is the fruit of your womb' (Lk 1: 42).
"In this way the Holy Spirit points out to those who want to hear
him that in the Virgin's, that is, Mary's, giving birth is fulfilled
God's promise to David that he would raise up a king born of his
body" (Contro le Eresie, 3, 21, 5: "Già e Non Ancora", CCCXX,
Milan, 1997, p. 285).
And thus, we see God's faithfulness in the great span of time that
goes from the ancient Psalm to the Incarnation of the Lord. The
mystery of a God who dwells among us, a God who becomes one with us
in the Incarnation, already appears and transpires in the Psalm. And
this faithfulness of God and our trust throughout the changes of
history contribute to our joy.
[To special groups:]
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at
this Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Ireland,
Malta and the United States of America. In a special way I greet the
Chaplains from the Military Archdiocese of the United States. I also
extend a warm welcome to the participants of the Fifth European
Ecumenical Conference on China. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord's
Blessings of peace and joy.
Lastly I address the young people, the sick and the
newly-weds. Today, we are celebrating the Feast of the Apostle
St Matthew. May his example encourage you, dear young people,
to live your Christian vocation consistently; may it help you, dear
sick people, to offer your sufferings in union with those of
Christ for the salvation of humanity; may it sustain you, dear
newly-weds, in the commitment to constant fidelity in love and
openness to the gift of life.
The Holy Father then led the recitation of the "Pater Noster" and
imparted his Apostolic Blessing.
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