Suffering Can Be Fruitful, Says Benedict XVI

Comments on Psalm 125(126)

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 17, 2005 ( The bearing of suffering can bring much fruitfulness and life, says Benedict XVI.

On the eve of his trip to World Youth Day, the Pope dedicated today’s general audience to talk about Psalm 125(126), part of an ongoing series of commentaries about the biblical passages that make up vespers, the Church’s evening prayer.

The Pope reflected on the passage, “Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy,” which was recited by Israelites when they felt threatened or afraid.

“Under the weight of work, at times one’s face is streaked with tears,” the Holy Father told the crowd gathered in the patio of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. “One sows with toil which might end in futility and failure. But when there is an abundant and joyful harvest, one discovers that the distress was fruitful.”

According to the Bishop of Rome, “[I]n this verse of the psalm is condensed the great lesson on the mystery of the fruitfulness and life that suffering can contain. As Jesus said on the approach of his passion and death: ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.'”

Times of trial

This was the phrase Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the future Benedict XVI) chose as the theme for the meditations of the Way of the Cross, held in the Colosseum last Good Friday, which he wrote at Pope John Paul II’s request.

Benedict XVI proposed Psalm 125(126) to his listeners as “a song of hope, to which recourse should be taken in times of trial, fear, external menace and internal oppression.”

At the same time, he said, it can become “a more general appeal to live one’s days and fulfill one’s choices in an atmosphere of fidelity. Perseverance in the good, even if misunderstood and opposed, in the end always leads to light, fruitfulness and peace.”

Previous papal commentaries on the psalms and canticles that make up vespers are posted in the Wednesday’s Audience section ( of ZENIT’s Web page.

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