VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2005 ( When all human hopes are destroyed, the believer knows that God acts, says Benedict XVI.

When addressing a crowd of more than 30,000 at today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, the Pope commented on Psalm 123(124) as part of an ongoing series of meditations on the psalms and canticles of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The biblical passage, with poetic images, expresses the sensation of the believer who has felt the liberating action of God in his life.

Initially the psalmist "feels the sensation of being on a beach, having been miraculously saved from the impetuous fury of the sea," the Holy Father said.

"Man's life is surrounded by the ambushes of the wicked who not only attack his life, but also want to destroy all human values," he said.

Putting his papers aside, Benedict XVI noted: "We see that these dangers also exist today."

Saving intervention

"However, the Lord intervenes and watches over and saves the just man," he added. The psalm, he said, expresses that same sensation with the figure of "a beast which has its prey between its teeth," or "a snare of fowlers that captures a bird."

But "the fate of the faithful, which was a fate of death, has changed radically thanks to a saving intervention," added the Pope. "At this point the prayer becomes a sigh of relief that rises from the depth of the soul: Even when all human hopes are destroyed, the divine liberating power can appear."

Benedict XVI concluded with an improvisation: "The Lord really loves us very much, this is our certainty and our confidence."

The Pope arrived in St. Peter's Square in an open car and greeted the crowd. At one point he held a little girl in his arms.

Before taking leave of the pilgrims the Holy Father said "thank you" four times for the faithful's long applause, and added: "Not only do we feel the warm sun, but also the warmth of hearts. Thank you."