Pope Extols Christ as Protector of the Oppressed

Comments on Psalm 71(72):12-19 in General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II reflected on the figure of Christ as defender of the oppressed and the fundamental rights of every person.

At a general audience animated with Christmas spirit, the Pope meditated on the second part of Psalm 71(72), song to the “King of Peace and Blessing,” with which the people of Israel presaged the coming of the king and Messiah.

“The Lord is the primary rescuer-redeemer who acts visibly through the Messiah King, defending the life and blood of the poor, his protected ones,” the Holy Father said when addressing some 9,000 pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall.

“Life and blood are the fundamental reality of the person, the representation of the rights and of the dignity of every human being, rights often violated by the powerful and arrogant of this world,” he said.

The transformation that the Messiah was to bring of the Old Testament and which became a reality in Jesus, also has the force for social change, the Pontiff explained, as he continued his commentary on the poetic biblical passage.

“The wheat of the harvest will be so abundant as to become almost like a sea of ears of wheat waving on the top of the mountains,” the Pope said, referring to Verse 16 of the Psalm.

“It is the sign of divine blessing that pours itself out in fullness on a pacified and serene earth. What is more, the whole of humanity, letting fall and canceling every division, will converge toward this sovereign of justice,” he added.

John Paul II concluded by quoting words from St. Augustine (354-430), who explained that “the indigent and the poor whom Christ comes to rescue are ‘the people of believers in him.'”

Among these, the Doctor of the Church wrote, are also those kings who have not “disdained to be indigent and poor, that is, to humbly confess their sins and recognize themselves in need of the glory and grace of God. … There was no one able to save us; that is why he came, in person, and has saved us.”

John Paul II has been offering a series of weekly meditations on the canticles and Psalms that are part of the Liturgy of Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church. Other meditations are posted in the Wednesday’s Audience section of ZENIT’s Web page.

The auditorium had a Christmas atmosphere, enhanced by two large firs, a gift from the Italian northern region of Trentino, which also donated the 35-meter (115-foot) fir placed in St. Peter’s Square, next to the traditional Nativity scene.

Some of the pilgrim groups present sang festive songs during the audience. Among them was the band of the Autonomous University of Queretaro, Mexico, which sang for the Holy Father.

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