VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2001 ( John Paul II offered a message of hope at the general audience today, highlighting Christ´s resurrection as the ultimate victory over evil.

"Even when anguished, there is need to keep alive the flame of confidence, because the Lord´s powerful hand leads his faithful to victory over evil and to salvation," the Holy Father said, while meditating on Psalm 117[118].

John Paul II thus continued his yearlong series of meditations on the Psalms and hymns of the Old Testament that Christians pray in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The biblical passage uses vivid images to describe the believer´s understandable fear: "The cruel adversaries are compared to a swarm of bees or a column of flames that advances, reducing everything to ashes," the Pope told the pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall.

"However, the reaction of the righteous, sustained by the Lord, is vehement: Three times he repeats: ´in the Lord´s name I crushed them.´" The Hebrew original evidences a destructive intervention in confronting evil, the Pope noted.

But the believer´s strength is not in his own resources but in God, the Pontiff clarified.

"And it is because of this," he said, "that the joy of victory over evil gives way to a very thought-provoking profession of faith: ´The Lord, my strength and might, came to me as savior.´"

The poetic biblical passages expresses this conviction with words that in time become prophetic in the person of Christ, the Holy Father said: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."

In the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostle Peter explains it thus: Jesus "is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved."

Hence, Psalm 117[118] encourages Christians to discover Christ, the only Savior, and "the day made by the Lord" in his death and resurrection.

The Pope added: "With the Psalm they can then sing full of gratitude: ´The Lord, my strength and might, came to me as savior.´"