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Commentary on Psalm 134(135)

"Divine Love Becomes Concrete"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address at today's general audience, which he dedicated to a reflection on Psalm 134(135):1-12.

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1. We have before us the first part of Psalm 134(135), a hymn of a liturgical nature, interlaced with allusions, reminiscences and references to other biblical texts. The liturgy, in fact, often constructs its text taking recourse to the great patrimony of the Bible, rich repertoire of topics and prayers that support the faithful's journey.

We follow the prayerful line of this first section (see Psalm 134[135]:1-12), which opens with a broad and impassioned invitation to praise the Lord (see verses 1-3). The appeal is addressed to the "servants of the Lord, who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God" (verses 1-2).

We are, therefore, in the living atmosphere of worship that unfolds in the Temple, the privileged and communal place of prayer. Experienced there in an effective way is the presence of "our God," a "good" and "gracious" God, the God of the chosen and of the covenant (verses 3-4).

After the invitation to praise, a soloist voice proclaims the profession of faith, which begins with the formula "I know" (verse 5). This creed will constitute the substance of the whole hymn, which becomes a proclamation of the greatness of the Lord (ibid.), manifested in his wonderful works.

2. The divine omnipotence is manifested continually in the whole world "in heaven and on earth, in the seas and the oceans." He it is who produces the clouds, lightning and winds, imagined as kept in "stocks" or storehouses (see verses 6-7).

But it is above all another aspect of the divine activity that is celebrated in this profession of faith. It is the amazing intervention in history, where the Creator shows his face as Redeemer of his people and sovereign of the world. The great events of the Exodus are made to pass before the eyes of Israel recollected in prayer.

Mentioned first of all is the synthetic and essential commemoration of the "plagues" of Egypt, the scourges inflicted by the Lord to subdue the oppressor (see verses 8-9). It is followed afterward with the evocation of the victories of Israel after the long march in the desert. They are attributed to the powerful intervention of God, who "smote many nations and slew mighty kings" (verse 10). Finally, there is the much longed for and awaited end, the promised land: [He] "made their land a heritage, a heritage for Israel his people" (verse 12).

Divine love becomes concrete and can almost be experienced in history with all its harsh and glorious vicissitudes. The liturgy has the task of making the divine gifts always present and effective, above all in the great paschal celebration which is the root of every other solemnity and constitutes the supreme emblem of freedom and salvation.

3. Let us take up the spirit of the psalm and of its praise of God, reproposing it through the voice of St. Clement of Rome as it resounds in the long conclusive prayer of his Letter to the Corinthians. He notes that, as in Psalm 134(135), the face of the Redeemer God appears, in the same way his protection, already granted to the ancient fathers, is now presented to us in Christ: "O Lord, make your face shine on us, for goodness in peace, to protect us with your powerful hand and save us from all sin with your most high arm and save us from those who hate us unjustly. Grant concord and peace to us and to all the inhabitants of the earth, as you gave it to our fathers when they invoked you in holiness, faith and truth. ... To you, who are the only one capable of doing these and other greater goods for us, we give you thanks through the great priest and protector of our souls, Jesus Christ, by whom you are glorified from generation to generation and for ever and ever. Amen" (60,3-4;61,3: "Collana di Testi Patristici" [Collection of Patristic Texts], V, Rome, 1984, pp. 90-91).

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