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Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Victory of the Messiah Frees Us from Evil

Vatican Information Service

In Wednesday's general audience, Benedict XVI continued his catechesis on the Psalms, turning his attention to the first part of Psalm 143, "The king's prayer for victory and peace." The audience was held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall and was attended by 8,000 people.

Bearing in mind the period in which the psalm was written, said the Pope, it is easy to see "that the king who appears no longer has the profile of a Davidic sovereign, as the Hebrew royal line had ended with the Babylonian exile of the sixth century BC, rather he represents the luminous and glorious figure of the Messiah, whose victory is no longer warlike and political but an intervention of freedom against evil."

The hymn begins with a string of praises exalting the greatness of the Lord, yet before His omnipotence "the psalmist, despite his regal dignity, feels weak and fragile. He makes a profession of humility, describing himself as a 'passing shadow' immersed in the flow of fleeting time and marked by the limits of his status as a created being."

The Holy Father continued: "Here, then, is the question: why does God concern Himself and think of such a poor and lowly creature? The question is answered by the great bursting forth of the divinity; this so-called theophany is accompanied by a series of cosmic elements and historical events that all tend to celebrate the transcendence of the supreme King of life, the universe and history."

The Pope explained how the early Christian writer Origen, in his commentary on this psalm, writes: "Lord, you cannot save the misery that is man if You do not take that misery upon Yourself. You came down, you lowered the heavens and stretched out Your hand from on high, you deigned to take upon Yourself the flesh of man, and many believed in You."

Benedict XVI concluded: "The psalm, which began with our discovery of being weak and far from divine splendor, reaches a surprising conclusion: near us is the God-Emmanuel, Who for Christians has the loving face of Jesus Christ, God- made-man."

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