VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2004 ( Christ's resurrection is the foundation of Christian hope in eternal life, John Paul II said in a meditation on a Psalm.

At the year's first outdoor general audience, the Pope meditated on Jesus, the promised Messiah, when reflecting on Psalm 20(21), a poetic composition in which the people of Israel thank God for the gifts bestowed on their king.

Addressing the 12,000 faithful gathered today in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father explained how the figure of the king presented in the biblical passage was already giving shape to "the face of Christ, messianic king."

"He is the refulgence of the glory of the Father. He is the Son in the full sense and, therefore, the perfect presence of God in the midst of humanity," John Paul II said.

"He is light and life, as St. John proclaims in the Prologue of his Gospel: 'Through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race,'" he continued.

As he has done in the past with this type of meditation, the Pope quoted a Father of the Church, on this occasion St. Irenaeus of Lyon, who also offered a Christian interpretation of the Psalm.

"The Psalmist proclaims [Christ's] resurrection from the dead and that, risen from the dead, he is immortal. In fact, he assumed life to rise again, through space and time in eternity, to be incorruptible," wrote Irenaeus, who was martyred around the year 202.

"Based on this certainty, the Christian also cultivates in himself the hope of the gift of eternal life," the Pontiff concluded.

He then greeted pilgrims in six languages. The Holy Father, who spoke with a tired voice, was driven in the popemobile around St. Peter's Square to greet and bless those present.

John Paul II was continuing his series of meditations on the Psalms and canticles of the liturgy of vespers. His catecheses may be consulted in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.