When God Seems Distant, Conversion Is More Urgent, Pope Says

John Paul II Seems in Better Health at General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2002 (Zenit.org).- When God seems distant, our prayer and conversion to him are that much more urgent, John Paul II said at Wednesday´s general audience.

The Holy Father was commenting on Psalm 79(80), the poetic composition written by the people of Israel, in which the Lord´s famous vine is compared to a song «intensely marked by suffering, but also by indestructible trust.» [A translation of the address appeared in Wednesday´s ZENIT dispatch.]

In the biblical passage, the «enemies laugh at this humiliated and offended people; yet God does not seem to be moved, […] to be stirred up, nor does he reveal his power, arrayed to defend the victims of violence and oppression,» the Pope told the 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square.

«Then, an urgent appeal is addressed to God so that, breaking his silence, he will again be arrayed in defense of the victims,» John Paul II said.

«God is always ready to ´return´ to his people, but it is also necessary for his people to ´return´ to him with fidelity,» the Pope said, as he continued his more than yearlong series of meditations on the Psalms and Old Testament canticles.

«If we are converted from sin, the Lord will be ´converted´ from his intention to punish: This is the Psalmist´s conviction, which also finds an echo in our hearts, opening them to hope,» the Holy Father said, explaining the Psalm´s conclusion.

John Paul II looked much better than he did over Holy Week. Seated in the atrium of St. Peter´s Basilica, he smiled broadly when greeting some 500 Polish pilgrims. He broke out in Easter songs in his own language.

When the Holy Father finished his rendition, the Poles began to applaud and encourage him. He then sang another stanza of the Sequence from the Easter Sunday liturgy.

The audience ended on a somber note when the Pope requested prayers for peace in the Holy Land.

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