VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2005 ( Benedict XVI says that the reason for a believer's hope lies in the forgiveness shown by God.

The Holy Father made that point today in his address at the general audience, on the six-month anniversary of his election to the papacy.

He addressed some 40,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square to comment on Psalm 129(130), "De Profundis," which begins with the words "Out of the depths I call to you, Lord."

The Pope called it "one of the favorite penitential psalms of popular devotion."

"The text," he said, "is above all a canticle to divine mercy and to reconciliation between the sinner and the Lord, a just God, but always ready to reveal himself as 'merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.'"

Benedict XVI contended that one of the most significant aspects of this poetic composition is the confirmation "that what generates respect, an attitude of fear mixed with love, is not punishment but forgiveness."

"More than the anger of God, his generous and disarming magnanimity must arouse a holy fear in us," he said.

"God, in fact, is not an inexorable sovereign who condemns the guilty, but a loving Father, whom we must love not out of fear of punishment, but because of his goodness ready to forgive," the Pope continued.

Ambrose's wonder

From the experience of divine forgiveness, "in the heart of the repentant psalmist there now arises expectation, hope and certainty that God will pronounce a word of deliverance and cancel his sin," the Holy Father said.

The Bishop of Rome ended his commentary quoting St. Ambrose (340-397), who expressed his wonder at the gifts God adds to his forgiveness.

"See how good God is, and disposed to forgive sins: not only does he give back what he had taken away, but also grants unexpected gifts," said St. Ambrose who played a key role in the conversion of St. Augustine.

"No one therefore should lose confidence, no one should despair of receiving the divine recompenses, even if he is remorseful of past sins. God knows how to change his mind, if you know how to amend your guilt," concluded the Pontiff quoting from St. Ambrose.

Benedict XVI's meditation continued the series of commentaries on the biblical psalms and canticles that form part of the Liturgy of the Hours. Others are posted in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.