VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2003 ( God is not an indifferent or distant being, so "we are not abandoned to ourselves," says John Paul II.

The Pope said that this truth about God is one of the central messages of the Old and New Testaments, and a profound reason for consolation for the believer. He was commenting on Psalm 145(146) during today's general audience, which attracted thousands to Paul VI Hall in the Vatican.

The "vicissitudes of our day are not dominated by chaos or fate; the events do not represent a mere succession of acts deprived of any meaning or goal," the Holy Father said.

"God is the creator of heaven and earth, and the faithful custodian of the covenant that binds him to his people," the Pope said. "It is he who does justice to the oppressed, gives bread to sustain the hungry, and sets prisoners free.

"He opens the eyes of the blind, raises the one who falls, loves the righteous, protects the stranger, and upholds the orphan and the widow. It is he who disturbs the way of the wicked and reigns sovereign over all beings and all times."

The Pope said that the language of the Psalm tries to explain that "the Lord is not a sovereign who is distant from his creatures, but is involved in their history, like one who defends justice, aligning himself with the last, the victims, the oppressed, the unhappy."

Before God, man has two possible but opposite choices: to "trust in princes, adopting their criteria inspired by wickedness, egoism and pride," or to trust in God, "eternal and faithful."

The first is "a slippery and ruinous way" which leads to despair, the Pope said. The second consists in basing one's life on "the indestructible solidity of the Lord, on his eternity, on his infinite power."

This second option "means to share his [God's] choices," to "live in adherence to the divine will," the Holy Father said. In other words, "to offer bread to the hungry, to visit prisoners, to support and comfort the sick, to defend and welcome the stranger, to be dedicated to the poor and the miserable. In reality, it is the same spirit of the beatitudes: to decide in favor of that proposal of love that saves us at the end of this life and will then be the object of our examination in the Last Judgment, which will seal history."

"Then we will be judged on the choice to serve Christ in the hungry, in the thirsty, in the stranger, in the naked, in the sick, in the imprisoned," for, as Jesus said: "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."

The Holy Father's reflection continued the series of meditations on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament. Other meditations may be consulted in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page (