VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says that for a believer, God’s judgment should be a reason for hope, not fear.
“He is, indeed, judge, but he is also Savior; he condemns evil but recompenses faithfulness; he is justice but above all love,” the Pope said during today’s general audience.
Addressing a crowd of 15,000 in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father commented on the canticle in chapters 11 and 12 of the Book of Revelation. The canticle is in thanksgiving for God’s just judgment.
“In this prayer the heart of the righteous is heard pulsating, who await in hope the coming of the Lord who will make the events of humanity more luminous, often immersed in the darkness of sin, injustice, deceit and violence,” John Paul II added.
The passage is a song, which the Book of Revelation puts on the lips of 24 elders of the heavenly court, in representation of all the righteous of the Old and New Covenants — “a hymn that perhaps was already in use in the liturgical assemblies of the early Church,” said the Pope.
It is an act of adoration of “the sovereign God of the world and of history, ready to establish his Kingdom of justice, love and truth,” the Holy Father noted.
The canticle takes place at the height of the “duel between good and evil,” he said. It is suddenly interrupted when “a heavenly voice resounds, which announces the defeat of the Accuser,” Satan, due to “the blood of the Lamb,” “the passion and death of Christ the Redeemer.”
“To his victory is associated the testimony of the martyrdom of Christians. There is a profound participation in the redeeming work of the Lamb on the part of the faithful who have not hesitated — love for life did not deter them from death,” the Holy Father said.
John Paul II recalled the last words of the martyr St. Polycarp of Smyrna, which echoed the words of the canticle.
“Be blessed for having judged me worthy of this day and in this hour to take my place in the list of your martyrs, to participate in the chalice of your Christ before resurrecting in soul and body for ever in the immortality of the Holy Spirit,” the bishop said, according to the account of his martyrdom presented in a letter of the Church of Smyrna to a Christian community in the year 156.
Thus, John Paul II continued his series of reflections on the Psalms and canticles found in the Liturgy of Vespers, the evening prayer of the Church. Other reflections may be consulted in the Wednesday’s Audience section of ZENIT’s Web page.