Skip to content

On Psalm 113(112)

"God Bends Over Needy and Suffering to Console"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address at Wednesday's general audience, which he dedicated to a reflection on Psalm 113 (112), "Praise the Name of the Lord."

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before we begin a brief interpretation of the Psalm we just heard, I would like to remind you that today is the birthday of our beloved John Paul II. He would have been 85 years old and we are certain that he sees us from on high and is with us. On this occasion we wish to say a profound thank you to the Lord for the gift of this Pope, and we wish to say thank you to the Pope himself for all that he did and suffered.

1. Psalm 112 has resounded in its simplicity and beauty, which serves as an introduction to the small collection of Psalms that goes from 112 to 117, conventionally called "the Egyptian Hallel." It is the alleluia, that is, the song of praise, which exalts the liberation from Pharaoh's slavery and the joy of Israel in serving the Lord in freedom in the Promised Land (cf. Psalm 112 (113)).

It was no accident that the Jewish tradition linked this series of Psalms to the paschal liturgy. The celebration of that event, according to its socio-historical and above all its spiritual dimensions, was regarded as a sign of liberation from evil in the multiplicity of its manifestations.

Psalm 112 is a brief hymn, which in the Hebrew original is made up of some sixty words, all suffused with sentiments of trust, praise, and joy.

2. The first stanza (cf. 1-3) exalts "the name of the Lord" that -- as is known -- in biblical language indicates the person of God himself, his living and acting presence in human history.

Thrice, with passionate intensity, resounds "the name of the Lord" at the heart of the prayer of adoration. All being and all time -- "from the rising of the sun to its setting," says the Psalmist (verse 3) -- is united in one act of thanksgiving. It is as if an incessant breath rises from the earth to heaven to exalt the Lord, creator of the cosmos and king of history.

3. Precisely through this movement toward the heavens, the Psalm leads us to the divine mystery. The second part (cf. 4-6) in fact, celebrates the Lord's transcendence, described with vertical images that go beyond the simple human horizon. It proclaims: the Lord "High above all nations," "enthroned on high," and no one can be his equal; he must even look "down" upon the heavens, because "his glory" is "above the heavens!" (4).

The divine gaze looks upon the whole of reality, on earthly and heavenly beings. Yet his look is not haughty and detached, as that of a cold emperor. The Lord -- says the Psalmist -- looks "down" (6).

4. We thus come to the Psalm's last movement (cf. 7-9), which shifts our attention from the heavenly heights to our earthly horizon. The Lord lowers himself with solicitude to our littleness and indigence which would impel us to withdraw in fear. He directs his loving gaze and efficacious commitment towards the least and miserable of the world: "The Lord raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap" (7).

Thus God bends over the needy and the suffering to console them. And this expression finds its ultimate meaning, its greatest realism at the moment that God bends down to the point of becoming incarnate, to become like one of us, like one of the poor of the world. He confers the greatest honor on the poor, he "sits them with princes"; yes, "with the princes of the people" (8). To the lonely barren woman, humiliated by ancient society as if she were a dry and useless branch, God gives the honor and great joy of having several children (cf. 9). Therefore, the Psalmist praises a God who is very different from us in his greatness, but at the same time very close to his suffering creatures.

It is easy to intuit in these last verses of Psalm 112 the prefiguration of Mary's words in the "Magnificat," the canticle of God's chosen one who "regards the lowliness of his handmaid." More radical than our Psalm, Mary proclaims that God "has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly" (cf. Luke 1:48,52, Psalm 112:6-8).

5. A very ancient "Evening Hymn," preserved in the "Constitutions of the Apostles" (VII, 48), takes up and develops our Psalm's joyful beginning. We recall it here, at the end of our reflection, to shed light on the Christian rereading that the early community made of the Psalms:

"Praise, children, the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.
We praise you, we sing to you, we bless you for your immense glory.
Lord king, Father of Christ spotless lamb, who takes away the sin of the world.
To you becomes praise, hymn, glory, to God the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit
now and forever. Amen"
(S. Pricoco and M. Simonetti, "La Preghiera dei Cristiani," (The Prayer of Christians), Milan, 2000, p. 97).

[At the end of the Audience, the Holy Father read the following summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today's reflection is based upon Psalm 112. This beautiful hymn serves as an introduction to a group of Psalms which celebrate the liberation of the people of Israel from slavery. It also expresses the joy they find in serving the Lord in the Promised Land.

The phrase "the name of the Lord," meaning God himself, is repeated throughout the Psalm and becomes the heart of this prayer of adulation. Indeed, God's greatness requires our praise, and yet the "Most High" never fails to care for the poor and the needy of the world. "He raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap" (Psalm 112:7).

This final phrase of the Psalm foreshadows Mary's words in the "Magnificat." Let us unite our prayer with hers as we praise God the Father, singing his glory, through the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

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

In a special way I greet the Risho Kosei-kai Buddhist group from Gunmaota, Japan. I also extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims, particularly those from England, Indonesia, Canada and the United States of America. I pray that your time in Rome may be filled with grace and peace. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I invoke God's blessing upon you and your loved ones.


The Vatican , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000



Psalm, God, Needy, Suffering, Pope, Benedict, Wednesday

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.