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Pope Says Marriage Is a Sign of God's Love for Humanity

Commentary on Psalm 44(45):11-18

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2004 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of John Paul II's address at Wednesday's general audience, which he dedicated to comment on the second part of Psalm 44(45).

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1. The gentle feminine portrait presented to us is the second part of the diptych that makes up Psalm 44(45), a serene and joyful nuptial song, which the Liturgy of Vespers proposes for our reading. After having contemplated the king who is celebrating his wedding (see verses 2-10) our gaze now turns to the figure of the bride queen (see verses 11-18). This nuptial perspective allows us to dedicate the Psalm to all couples who live their marriage with intensity and inner freshness, sign of a "great mystery," as St. Paul suggests, that of the love of the Father for humanity and of Christ for his Church (see Ephesians 5:32). However, the Psalm offers a further horizon.

The Jewish king appears in the scene, in whom subsequent Jewish tradition has seen the profile of the Davidic Messiah, while Christianity has transformed the hymn into a song in honor of Christ.

2. Our attention now turns, however, to the profile of the queen, whom the court poet, author of the Psalm (see Psalm 44[45]:2), depicts with great delicacy and feeling.

The indication of the Phoenician city of Tyre (see verse 13) allows one to suppose that she is a foreign princess. Thus can be understood the call to forget her people and her father's house (see verse 11), from which the princess has had to move away.

The nuptial vocation is a life-altering event, as already seen in the Book of Genesis: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). The bride queen now advances, with her nuptial cortege, which takes the gifts toward the king, fascinated by her beauty (see Psalm 44[45]:12-13).

3. Of significance is the insistence with which the Psalmist exalts the woman: She is "all beautiful" (verse 14) and this magnificence is expressed in her wedding robe, of pearls and brocade (see verses 14-15).

The Bible loves beauty as a reflection of the splendor of God himself; clothes can also reflect the sign of a brilliant inner light, of innocence of soul.

Our thoughts go in a similar way, on one hand, to the wonderful pages of the Song of Songs (see cc. 4 and 7) and, on the other, to the passage of the Book of Revelation which portrays the "marriage of the Lamb," namely, of Christ with the community of the redeemed, which emphasizes the symbolic value of the nuptial robes: "For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready. She was allowed to wear a bright, clean linen garment" (Revelation 19:7-8).

4. Together with beauty, joy is exalted which is reflected in the festive cortege of the "maids of her train," the young girls who accompany the bride "with glad and joyous acclaim" (see Psalm 44[45]:15-16). Genuine gladness, much more profound than simple gaiety, is an expression of love, which participates in the good of the person loved with serenity of heart.

Now, according to the conclusive words of good wishes, another reality is delineated which is radically inherent in marriage: fecundity. It speaks, in fact, of "sons" and "generations" (see verses 17-18). The future, not just of the dynasty but of humanity, is brought about precisely because the couple offers new creatures to the world.

It is an important and timely topic in the West, often incapable of ensuring its own existence in the future through the generation and care of new creatures, who will continue the civilization of peoples and realize the history of salvation.

5. As is known, many Fathers of the Church have seen Mary in the portrait of the queen, beginning with the initial call: "Listen, my daughter, and understand; pay me careful heed ..." (verse 11). This occurs, for example, in the Homily on the Mother of God of Crispinian of Jerusalem, a Cappadocian who was, in Palestine, among the founding monks of the monastery of St. Euthymius and, who, once a priest, was custodian of the Holy Cross in the Basilica of the Anasthasis in Jerusalem.

"To you I dedicate my address," he says turning to Mary, "to you who are the bride of the great sovereign; to you I dedicate my address, to you who are to conceive the Word of God, in the way He knows. ... 'Hear, O daughter, and consider; incline your ear'; in fact, the happy event of the redemption of the world is verified. Incline your ear and what you will hear will lift up your heart. ... 'Forget your people and your father's house': do not pay attention to your earthly relations, because you will be transformed into a heavenly Queen. And hear," he says, "how much he loves you who is the Creator and Lord of all things. 'In fact, the King,' he says, 'desires your beauty': the Father himself will take you as his bride; the Spirit will predispose all the conditions that are necessary for this marriage. Do not think you will give birth to a human child 'because he is your Lord and you will adore him.' Your Creator has become your child; you will conceive him and, with the others, you will adore him as your Lord" (Marian Texts of the First Millennium, I, Rome, 1988, pp. 605-606).

[At the end of the audience, a papal aid read the following summary in English:]

The beautiful Psalm we just heard is the second part of a serene and joyful nuptial song, which is recited during the liturgy of evening prayer. This hymn of the wedding feast offers us two images: the resplendent bride and Queen and the joy of her maiden companions.

The matrimonial nature of these verses allows us to dedicate the Psalm to all married couples who daily strive to live their vocation with commitment and zeal. Marriage is a life-altering event and an authentic sign of the "great mystery" of the Father's love for humanity and Christ's love for his Church.

As we reflect on the image of the Virgin Queen, we think of Mary, the Mother of God, who received the glorious announcement of the redemption of the world. Through the intercession of the Queen of Heaven, let us open ourselves to the great mystery of the Father's love as we endeavor to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ.

[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at this audience, especially those from Britain, Ireland and the United States of America. In a special way I greet the young people from Sudan and the deacon-candidates from the North American College. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord's blessings of peace and joy.

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Keywords

Marriage, Pope, Psalm, Humanity

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