VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2002 ( The infinitely transcendent and inaccessible God is, at the same time, close to people and comforts them, John Paul II says.

During today's general audience, the Pope said that God is "infinitely above every one of his creatures. This transcendence, however, does not render him an impassive and strange sovereign: When he is invoked, he responds. God is he who can save, the only one who can free humanity from evil and death."

The Holy Father was continuing his meditations on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament.

Today he focused on Psalm 98(99), in which "after having contemplated the absolute perfection of the Lord, the Psalmist recalls that God was in constant contact with his people," through the prophets and the worship celebrated in the Temple of Jerusalem.

"He spoke and was listened to, he punished offenses but also forgave," John Paul II told the 6,000 pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall.

The Pope said the psalm, prayed at the start of the day in the liturgy of the hours, assures the believer he "is not abandoned to the mercy of blind and dark chance, nor given over to the uncertainty of his freedom, nor dependent on the decisions of others, nor dominated by the events of history."

Like the Psalmist, the Christian knows "that the Creator and Savior, in his grandeur, holiness and mercy, is above every earthly reality," he said.

"We can say, therefore, that Psalm 98 is realized today in the Church, seat of the presence of the holy and transcendent God," the Pope added. "The Lord has not withdrawn into the inaccessible area of his mystery, indifferent to our history and to our expectations."

"God came into our midst above all in his Son, making himself one of us to infuse his life and holiness in us," the Holy Father said. "Because of this, we now approach God with trust, not terror. Indeed, in Christ we have the supreme holy priest, innocent, without stain."

According to John Paul II, Psalm 98(99) then becomes a song full "of serenity and joy: It exalts the Lord king, who dwells among us, wiping every tear from our eyes."

The Pope's meditations on the canticles and Psalms may be consulted at