Pope: God is always close, even in days of sorrow and responds to those who pray
» 09/07/2011 13:34
Back in St Peter’s Square for the general audience, Benedict XVI comments on psalm 3. David, in one of the most dramatic moments of his life, asks for help. It is a prayer in which every man can recognize feelings of pain, bitterness, and also of trust in God, who “responds”, “but we must be able to recognize His presence and accept His ways.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “God is always near”, He “listens and responds,” even in the “long days of pain”, “difficulties and problems, but we must be able to recognize His presence and accept His ways”, like on Golgotha, when “he seems to do nothing His Son dies” while that is the very moment the glory of Jesus is manifest.
The General Audience returned once again to St Peter’s square today for the first time since the July break and the August audiences held at Castel Gandolfo. In fact, Benedict XVI traveled into Rome for the weekly meeting with the faithful, after which he returned to his summer residence in the hills.
The Pope announced to the 20 thousand persons that, “continuing in the school of prayer we now begin meditating on the psalms that are the book of prayer par excellence.”
The first text proposed by Benedict XVI is Psalm 3, of David, which “presents one of the most dramatic episodes” of the king’s life, “when his son usurps the royal throne and forces him to leave Jerusalem fleeing for their lives.” “The situation of distress and anguish experienced by David is the background to this prayer, and it helps us to understand it, presenting itself as the typical situation in which a Psalm such as this can be recited. In the cry of the Psalmist, every man can recognize the feelings of pain, bitterness, and together with then trust in God which, according to the biblical narrative, had accompanied David’s flight from his city. ”
It is a description “marked by dramatic elements,” which emphasizes the multitude of enemies. “This insistence on the number and size of the enemy serves to express the Psalmist’s perception of the absolute disparity between him and his pursuers, a disproportion that justifies and establishes the urgency of his request for help.”
But the Psalmist “does not admit defeat in the face of this vision of death, he remains firm in his relationship with the God of life and turns first to Him in search of help. Yet his enemies also attempt to break this bond with God and to undermine the faith of their victim. They insinuate that the Lord can not intervene, they say that not even God can save him. The aggression is not only physical, but it touches the spiritual dimension – the Lord can not save him, they say – the core of the soul of the Psalmist is attacked. It is the very temptation to which the believer is subjected: the temptation to lose faith, faith in the nearness of God. ”
But “the just man overcomes the ultimate test,” he “remains strong in the certainty of truth and complete trust in God, and hence finds life and truth, and it seems to me that here the psalm touches us very personally regarding many problems. We are tempted to think that maybe God will not save me, does not know me, perhaps he cannot. The temptation against faith is the last attack of the enemy and we must resist this, this is how we find God and find life. ”
Fear of the enemies now disappears, “they did not win because he who believes in God is sure that God is his friend.” The Lord is “help, protection, salvation as a shield protecting those who rely on Him.” “The man is no longer alone, his enemies are not as unbeatable as they seemed, because the Lord hears the cry of the oppressed and answers from the place of his presence, from his holy mountain. Man cries in anguish, in danger, in pain, man asks for help, and God responds. This intertwining of human cry and divine response is the dialectic of prayer and the key to the whole history of salvation. The cry expresses the need for help and appeals to the fidelity of the other, crying out means putting faith in a gesture of closeness and willingness of God to listen. Prayer expresses the certainty of a divine presence already experienced and believed, which is manifested in its fullness in God’s salvific response. ”
The psalm, the Pope concluded, ” presents us with a petition full of trust and comfort. Praying this psalm, we can make our own the sentiments of the Psalmist, the figure of the persecuted just man who finds his fulfillment in Jesus. In pain, in the bitterness of misunderstanding and of offense, the words of Psalm open our hearts to the comforting certainty of faith. God is always near – even in difficulties, problems, in the darkness of life – He listens, responds and saves us in His own way. But we must be able to recognize His presence and accept His ways, like David in his humbling flight from his son Absalom, like the persecuted just man from the Book of Wisdom and, most recently and comprehensively, as the Lord Jesus on Golgotha. And when, in the eyes of the wicked, God appears to do nothing and the Son dies, right then, for all believers, the true glory and the ultimate realization of salvation manifests itself. May the Lord give us faith, come to the aid of our weakness and make us able to believe and pray in every distress, in the sorrowful nights of doubt and during the long days of pain, abandoning ourselves to Him with confidence, our ‘shield’ and our ‘glory’. “