Here is a translation of John Paul II's address at today's general audience, which he dedicated to a reflection on Psalm 145(146).
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1. Psalm 145, which we just heard, is an "alleluia," the first of five Psalms that close the whole collection of the Psalter. Hebrew liturgical tradition already used this hymn as a song of praise for the morning: It reaches its culmination in the proclamation of the sovereignty of God over human history. In fact, at the end of the Psalm, it is declared that "the Lord shall reign forever" (verse 10).
A consoling truth is derived from this: We are not abandoned to ourselves, the vicissitudes of our day are not dominated by chaos or fate, the events do not represent a mere succession of acts deprived of any meaning or goal. Starting from this conviction, a true and proper profession of faith in God is developed, celebrated with a kind of litany in which the attributes of love and goodness are proclaimed which are proper to him (see verses 6-9).
2. God is the creator of heaven and earth, and the faithful custodian of the covenant that binds him to his people. It is he who does justice to the oppressed, gives bread to sustain the hungry, and sets prisoners free. It is he who opens the eyes of the blind, raises the one who falls, loves the righteous, protects the stranger, and upholds the orphan and the widow. It is he who disturbs the way of the wicked and reigns sovereign over all beings and all times.
These are 12 theological affirmations that, with their perfect number, wish to express the fullness and perfection of divine action. The Lord is not a sovereign who is distant from his creatures, but is involved in their history, like one who defends justice, aligning himself with the last, the victims, the oppressed, the unhappy.
3. Man finds himself, then, before a radical choice between two contrasting possibilities: On one hand is the temptation to "trust in princes" (see verse 3), adopting their criteria inspired by wickedness, egoism and pride. In reality, this is a slippery and ruinous way, it is "a crooked path and devious way" (see Proverbs 2:15), which has despair as its end.
In fact, the Psalmist reminds us that man is a fragile and mortal being, as the word "'adam" expresses, which in Hebrew refers to earth, matter, dust. Man, the Bible often repeats, is like a palace that crumbles (see Ecclesiastes 12:1-7), a cobweb that the wind rends (see Job 8:14), a blade of grass that is green at dawn and dry at night (see Psalm 89:5-6; 102:15-16). When death comes upon him, all his plans disintegrate and he returns to dust: "When they breathe their last, they return to the earth; that day all their planning comes to nothing" (Psalm 145:4).
4. However, man has another possibility before him, exalted by the Psalmist with a beatitude: "Happy those whose help is Jacob's God, whose hope is in the Lord, their God" (verse 5). This is the way of trust in the eternal and faithful God. The amen, which is the Hebrew word of faith, means precisely to be based on the indestructible solidity of the Lord, on his eternity, on his infinite power. But above all it means to share his choices, which the profession of faith and praise, first described by us, has brought to light.
It is necessary to live in adherence to the divine will, to offer bread to the hungry, to visit prisoners, to support and comfort the sick, to defend and welcome strangers, to be dedicated to the poor and miserable. In reality, it is the same spirit of the beatitudes; to decide in favor of that proposal of love that saves us at the end of this life and will then be the object of our examination in the Last Judgment, which will seal history. Then we will be judged on the choice to serve Christ in the hungry, in the thirsty, in the stranger, in the naked, in the sick, in the imprisoned. "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40), the Lord will then say.
5. Let us conclude our meditation of Psalm 145 with an idea for reflection offered to us by the subsequent Christian tradition.
Origen, the great writer of the third century, when commenting on Verse 7 of the Psalm, which says: "The Lord gives food to the hungry and sets prisoners free," perceived an implicit reference to the Eucharist: "We are hungry for Christ, and he himself will give us the bread of heaven. 'Give us this day our daily bread.' Those who speak this way, are hungry; those who feel the need for bread, are hungry." And this hunger is fully satiated by the sacrament of the Eucharist, in which man is nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ (see Origen -- Jerome, "74 Omelie sul Libro dei Salmi" [74 Homilies on the Book of Psalms], Milan, 1993, pp. 526-527).
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father gave this summary in English:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today's Psalm is the first of the five "alleluias" that close the Book of Psalms. It praises God who reigns sovereign over all creation and is faithful to his covenant. God is ever attentive to the sufferings of his creatures; he acts with justice and shows compassion. We too are called, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, to share with the poor, to defend the oppressed, and to show compassion to those who reflect in their lives the face of the suffering Christ.
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present in today's audience, especially those from Sierra Leone, England, Scotland, Canada and the United States. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. In a special way, I greet the many student groups present. Upon all of you I cordially invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.