Short-Lived, We Find Hope in Eternity of God, Says John Paul II

Reflects on Psalm 89(90) at General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2003 ( Being fragile, a human being can find genuine hope in the eternity of God and the salvation brought by Christ, says John Paul II.

The Pope, addressing 13,000 pilgrims gathered for today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, referred to “our days, yet so fragile and marked by affliction.”

“Only the grace of the Lord can give consistency and perpetuity to our daily actions,” he said.

“With prayer we ask God that a reflection of eternity penetrate our brief life and our actions,” the Holy Father said, commenting on Psalm 89(90), a poetic composition that begins with “Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations.”

“With the presence of divine grace in us, a light will shine on the passing of the days, misery will be turned into glory, that which seemed deprived of sense will acquire meaning,” the Pope continued.

Led by the Psalm, he reflected further on what he considered “one of the topics most explored by philosophy, most sung by poetry, most felt by the experience of humanity of all times and all regions of our planet: human transience and the passing of time.”

He began by contrasting “the eternity of God with man’s ephemeral time,” as “a thousand years in your eyes are merely a yesterday,” the biblical passage states.

“Our existence has the frailty of the grass that sprouts at dawn; suddenly it hears the whistle of the sickle that reduces it to a pile of hay,” the Pope said.

To this radical weakness — man is “dust” — the Bible also associates sin, leading the Pope to say: “In us there is finiteness but also culpability.”

The Holy Father explained how the human being can only overcome himself by taking recourse to his Creator, the reason why the Psalm asks that the grace of God “sustain and gladden our days, yet so fragile and marked by affliction.”

After the death and resurrection of Christ, this frailty of man finds “the source of life beyond death,” allowing us “to rejoice and be ‘glad all our days,'” the Pope said.

The commentary was part of John Paul II’s ongoing series of meditations on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament. Others may be consulted in the Wednesday Audience section of ZENIT’s Web page.

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