VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2002 ( John Paul II drew attention to a canticle in the Book of Isaiah to focus on the wonder inspired by God's grandeur and profound tenderness.

The Pope, addressing 7,000 pilgrims gathered at today’s general audience in Paul VI Hall, based his reflection on the canticle in Isaiah 40, which depicts God as the "Good Shepherd."

"Frequently in the Bible and in other ancient traditions, this image evokes the idea of leadership and of dominion, but in this case especially, there are tender and passionate traits, as the shepherd is also the companion of his sheep on the way," the Pope explained.

"He cares for his flock, not only by feeding it and being concerned that it not be scattered, but also by bending over the lambs and the ewes with tenderness," he added.

At the same time, the biblical canticle recognizes that this shepherd is the Creator of the universe. "No one can be on a par with him in this grandiose and colossal work," the Holy Father said.

"No one is able to measure the immense universe created by God," he continued. "The prophet leads one to understand how human instruments are ridiculously inadequate for this purpose."

In this hymn of the Old Testament, God is the Lord of history, and the nations are but "powder." John Paul II emphasized that the prophet "recalls man to the awareness of his limitations before the infinite grandeur and sovereign omnipotence of God."

The most wondrous evidence of the power and tenderness of God can be contemplated at Bethlehem. "That infinite and omnipotent God made himself little and limited," the Pope said, quoting the words of St. Jerome (343-420), who exhorted: "Look at him: He who holds the universe in his fist, is held in a narrow manger."

With this reflection, the Holy Father continued with the series of meditations he has offered for over a year on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament, which have become the daily prayer of Christians (see the Wednesday's Audience section at