VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Encountering God requires having a pure conscience in regard to personal matters as well as issues of social justice, says John Paul II.
“Intimacy with God” disallows the practice of usury, “a plague that also in our days is a disgraceful reality, capable of strangling the life of many people,” the Pope said today during his address at the general audience.
Moreover, we must “avoid every corruption in public life, another commitment that must be practiced with rigor also in our time,” he said.
In his address to the 5,000 pilgrims gathered in Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father gave a reflection on Psalm 14(15), a passage that asks, Who is righteous before the Lord?
In his catechesis, the Pope explained that the Psalm presents 11 qualities that “constitute an ideal synthesis of the basic moral commitments present in the biblical law.”
“At times the conditions required to enter the sacred chamber were engraved on the facade of Egyptian and Babylonian temples,” the Holy Father said. He alluded to the external rites of purification such as “ablutions, gestures and special clothing.”
However, it is not like this in Psalm 14(15), which “calls for the purification of conscience, so that its choices will be inspired by love of justice and of neighbor.” In fact, the Pope, quoting many prophets, said God detests “worship detached from daily life.”
The Psalm presents three commitments with which it expresses “an ethical choice”: “to follow the way of moral integrity, of the practice of justice, and of perfect sincerity in speech,” the Holy Father said.
The sacred text then highlights “three duties” relating to our neighbor: “to eliminate slander from our speech, to avoid every action that can harm our brother, to refrain from insulting those who live with us every day,” he continued.
“Then comes the requirement to take a clear position in the social realm: to despise the wicked and honor those who fear God,” the Pope said.
The three last precepts mentioned by the Psalm are: “to be faithful to one’s given word, to oaths, even in the case in which the consequences will be damaging to us; not to practice usury,” and “to avoid every corruption in public life.”
John Paul II said that these precepts were also assumed by Christ, who counseled: “If you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Quoting St. Hilary of Poitiers, John Paul II said that Psalm 14(15) must be “written in the heart; … night and day we must address the treasure of its rich brevity.”
The Holy Father was continuing his series of meditations on the Psalms and canticles that make up the liturgy of vespers, the Church’s evening prayer. Other meditations can be consulted in the Wednesday’s Audience section of ZENIT’s Web page.