VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2005 ( A person's greatest consolation is to see God's love for the neediest, says Benedict XVI.

Commenting on the hymn of praise to the Lord, Psalm 111 (112), in today's general audience, the Holy Father added that "the Lord raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap."

Before reading his prepared text, the Pope reminded the faithful that today is Karol Wojtyla's birthday. John Paul II would have been 85 years old.

The Holy Father's meditation was based on the texts prepared by John Paul II to comment on the Psalms and canticles of vespers, the evening prayer of the Church.

The Pope said the Psalm in question is characterized by its "simplicity and beauty." "The Psalm leads us to the divine mystery," presenting on one hand "the Lord's transcendence" and on the other, his closeness.

"His look is not haughty and detached, as that of a cold emperor." "The Lord lowers himself with solicitude to our littleness and indigence which would impel us to withdraw in fear," he said.

Addressing more than 25,000 pilgrims who attended the audience in the rain in St. Peter's square, the Pontiff said that the Lord "directs his loving gaze and efficacious commitment towards the least and miserable of the world."

"God bends over the needy and the suffering to console them. And this expression finds its ultimate meaning, its greatest realism at the moment that God bends down to the point of becoming incarnate, to become like one of us, like one of the poor of the world," he said.

This is the mystery of Christ, God made man, who "confers the greatest honor on the poor," he stated.

Benedict XVI added that in Psalm 111 (112), one can intuit "the prefiguration of Mary's words in the "Magnificat," the canticle of God's chosen one who 'regards the lowliness of his handmaid.'"

"More radical than our Psalm, Mary proclaims that God 'has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly,'" he said.

Benedict XVI's and John Paul II's commentaries on the Psalms and canticles of vespers are posted in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.