Christians Must Proclaim God´s Love by Witness, Pope Says

Meditates on Psalm 116[117] During General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2001 ( A Christian must give witness to his beliefs today by proclaiming God´s tireless love for every person, says John Paul II.

«God´s faithful love will not fail and will not abandon us to ourselves, or to the darkness of nihilism, or of a blind end, or of the void or death,» the Holy Father stressed during today´s general audience, held in Paul VI Hall.

The Pope thus distilled the central message of the shortest Psalm in the Bible, 116[117], made up, in the original Hebrew, of only 17 words. His address continued a yearlong series of meditations on the hymns and canticles of the Old Testament.

The text of the canticle is made up of two phrases: «Praise the Lord, all you nations! Give glory, all you peoples! The Lord´s love for us is strong; the Lord is faithful forever. Hallelujah!»

These words, the Pope said, reflect «the fundamental features of the divine face,» which, like the people of Israel, the believer can experience, but which are virtually impossible to translate from the Hebrew.

In the first place, the Psalm states that the relation between God and the human person is one of mercy, the Holy Father said.

It is «not cold, as is the case between an emperor and his subject, but alive, as that which develops between two friends, two spouses, parents and children,» he said.

In the second place, Psalm 116[117] explains that this relationship is «authentic» and «eternal,» because «God loves us with an unconditional, tireless, never-ending love,» the Holy Father said.

Hence, this poetic biblical passage recognizes that this experience is not limited to the Chosen People, but can be felt by every believer. Thus, John Paul II spoke of «a kind of ecumenical prayer embracing all peoples with their different origins, histories and cultures.»

However, John Paul II clarified, a Christian must witness to the love of God with his «life,» and not just with «words,» because otherwise, as Jesus warned, «we will not be very credible.»

Quoting the prophet Isaiah, the Pontiff explained: «The swords and spears will fall from their hands; indeed, they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, so that humanity will live in peace, singing its praises to the one Lord of all, hearing the word, and observing the law.»

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