“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”, said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday as he introduced Psalm no 3, also known as the Psalm of David as the subject of this his seventh general audience dedicated to the Christians school of prayer.
To the joy of 20 thousand visitors and pilgrims to the Vatican, the Pope returned to St Peter’s square for his weekly catechesis, for the first time since the July break and the August sessions held in the cooler courtyard of his summer residence in the Roman hills. A gentle breeze brought some relief to those gathered in a stiflingly humid stone square beneath a hot midday sun, but even the unusually warm September weather failed to dampen their enthusiastic welcome to Pope Benedict as he toured the square in his pope-mobile.
In his brief catechesis in English he said : “Dear Brothers and Sisters, We return today to our series of catecheses on prayer with a consideration of Psalm Three, in which the psalmist cries out to God to rescue him from the enemies who surround him. Traditionally the psalm is attributed to King David as he flees from the armies of his rebellious son Absalom. Assailed on every side by foes who seek his life, the psalmist calls on the name of the Lord, filled with faith in the presence and the power of God who alone can save him from the evils that threaten him”.
Earlier in his lengthier comments in Italian the Pope developed on importance of remaining firm in our faith in the Lord even in the midst of desperation: “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. "
However "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. "
“We are reminded of the plight of the just man in the Book of Wisdom, condemned to a shameful death by the wicked, who taunt him by arguing that God will surely come to his rescue. Our thoughts move on to Calvary, where the passers-by mocked Jesus, saying that God would deliver him from death if he were really who he claimed to be. And yet, we know that God truly hears the prayers of those who call upon him in faith. He answers from his holy mountain. The unseen God responds with great power, and he becomes our shield and our glory. Even though Jesus appears to be abandoned by the Father as he dies on Calvary, yet for the eyes of faith this is the crowning moment of salvation, the triumph of the Cross, the hour of our Saviour’s glorification”.
Pope Benedict concluded his lesson with a prayer : “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'”. And finally he greeted all the English speaking pilgrims present at the audience: I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including the groups from Britain and Ireland, Denmark and the United States of America. I extend a special greeting to the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, who have come from Indonesia, and to the Ursuline Sisters. Commending all of you to the intercession of Saints Peter and Paul, I invoke God’s blessings upon you. Listen to Emer McCarthy's report:
Below the Psalm 3: A psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.
How many are my foes, LORD! How many rise against me!
How many say of me, "God will not save that one." Selah
But you, LORD, are a shield around me; my glory, you keep my head high.
Whenever I cried out to the LORD, I was answered from the holy mountain. Selah
Whenever I lay down and slept, the LORD preserved me to rise again.
I do not fear, then, thousands of people arrayed against me on every side.
Arise, LORD! Save me, my God! You will shatter the jaws of all my foes; you will break the teeth of the wicked.
Safety comes from the LORD! Your blessing for your people! Selah