God Is Always Close to Us, Says Benedict XVI

Comments on Psalm 115(116)

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Even in the worst moments God is close to us in love, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made that observation at today’s general audience in a commentary on Psalm 115(116), a hymn of thanksgiving which asks, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?”

Before a crowd of 27,000 gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued a series of catecheses on the Psalms and canticles that make up vespers, the evening prayer of the Church.

The act of thanksgiving suggested by the question in the Psalm arises when a human being is “well aware that, even when death is imminent, the Lord bends over him with his love,” Benedict XVI said.

“God is not indifferent to his creature’s drama, but breaks his chains,” the Pope assured.

Leaving aside his prepared text at one point, the Holy Father affirmed that “in reality Christ is the first martyr. He gave his life amid hatred and falsehood,” yet he transformed the Passion, and the context he was in, into an action of thanksgiving.

Benedict XVI, who based his commentary on texts already prepared by Pope John Paul II for the general audiences, concluded it by citing words of St. Basil the Great (329-379) over the question posed by the Psalm, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?”

“What then, shall I render to the Lord? Not sacrifices or holocausts … but the whole of my life,” said the early Father of the Church. “‘I will lift up the cup of salvation,’ calling a ‘cup’ the suffering in spiritual combat, the resisting of sin till death.”

At the end of the audience the Pope invited the faithful to participate in the Mass that he will preside over this Thursday, the solemnity of Corpus Christi, at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

The Holy Father is scheduled to participate in a Eucharistic procession from there to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

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