VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2003 ( In the midst of life's trials, God always has the last word, John Paul II reminded the faithful.

The Pope made this observation at today's general audience in his address which he dedicated to passages from Psalm 117(118), a hymn of praise to God.

The Psalm depicts life's trials forcefully: "They surrounded my like bees; they blazed like fire among thorns."

Yet, the Psalmist himself adds "in the Lord's name I crushed them," the Holy Father told the 7,000 faithful gathered in Paul VI Hall.

"Hence, there is an awareness of never being left alone at the mercy of the storm unleashed by the wicked," the Pope added. "In truth, the last word is always that of God who, although he permits his faithful one to be chastened, does not give him over to death." The Holy Father, suffering from a slight cold, spoke in a hoarse voice.

The Psalmist, expressing the harsh trial he has overcome and his subsequent joy, "compares himself to a stone the builders rejected" which has become "the cornerstone," John Paul II said.

"Christ himself will take on this image and verse, at the end of the parable of the murderous vinedressers, to announce his passion and glorification," the Pope continued.

"In applying this Psalm to himself, Christ opens the way to the Christian interpretation of this hymn of trust and gratitude to the Lord for his 'hesed,' namely, for his loving faithfulness, which echoes throughout the Psalm," the Holy Father said.

The Pope's catechesis continued a series of meditations on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament. The meditations may be consulted in the "Wednesday's Audience" section of the ZENIT Web page.