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Psalm 62 (63): 2-9

A soul thirsting for God

Let the man who has put away the deeds of the night watch for God

O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II
General Audience, Wednesday 25 April 2001 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Lauds, Sunday Week 1

"1. Psalm 62 on which we are reflecting today is the Psalm of mystical love, which celebrates total adherence to God based on an almost physical yearning and reaching its fullness in a close and everlasting embrace. Prayer becomes longing, thirst and hunger, because it involves the soul and the body.

As St Teresa of Avila wrote:  "Thirst, I think, means the desire for something very necessary for us so necessary that if we have none of it we shall die." (The Way of Perfection, chap XIX). The liturgy presents to us the first two verses of the Psalm which are indeed focused on the symbols of thirst and hunger, while the third verse evokes a dark horizon, that of the divine judgement of evil, in contrast to the brightness and confident longing of the rest of the Psalm.

2. Let us begin our meditation with the first song, that of the thirst for God (cf v 2-4). It is dawn, the sun is rising in the clear blue sky of the Holy Land, and the person praying begins his day by going to the temple to seek God's light. He has an almost instinctive, one might say "physical" need for that encounter with the Lord. Just as the dried-out earth is dead until it is watered by the rain and the earth's gaping cracks suggest the image of its parched and thirsty mouth, so the believer yearns for God, to be filled with him and thus to live in communion with him.

The prophet Jeremiah had already proclaimed: the Lord is the "source of living waters", and had reproached the people for building "broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer 2, 13). Jesus himself would exclaim aloud: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me; let him drink who believes in me" (Jn 7: 37-38). At high noon on a sunny, silent day, he promises the Samaritan woman: "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst; the water that I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (Jn 4, 14).

3. The prayer of Psalm 62 is interwoven with the song of the wonderful Psalm 42: "as the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.... When shall I come and behold the face of God?" (v 2-3). Now in Old Testament language the Hebrew "soul" is indicated by the term nefesh, which in some texts means "throat" and whose meaning in many others is broadened to encompass the whole of the person. Taken in these dimensions, the word helps us to realize how essential and profound our need for God is; without him we lack breath and even life itself. For this reason the Psalmist comes to the point of putting physical existence itself on the second level, if union with God should be lacking: "for your steadfast love is better than life" (Ps 62, 3). In Psalm 72 he will also repeat to the Lord: "There is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.... for me it is good to be near God" (Ps 72, 25-28).

4. After the song about thirst, the Psalmist sings a song about hunger (cf Ps 62, 5-8). With the images of "the soul feasting as with marrow and fat" and of being filled, the person praying is probably referring to one of the sacrifices that were celebrated in the temple of Zion: the so-called sacrifice "of communion", that is, a sacred banquet at which the faithful ate the flesh of the sacrifice. Another fundamental need of life is used here as a symbol of communion with God: hunger is appeased when people hear the divine Word and encounter the Lord. Indeed "man does not live by bread alone, but ... by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord" (Dt 8, 3; cf Mt 4, 4). And here flashes across the Christian's mind the thought of the banquet that Christ prepared on the last evening of his earthly life, whose deep value he had explained in his discourse at Capernaum: "For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (Jn 6, 55-56).

5. Through the mystical food of communion with God, "the soul clings to him" as the Psalmist says. Once again the word "soul" suggests the whole human being. Here one rightly finds the mention of an embrace, an almost physical clinging; henceforth God and man are in full communion and on the lips of his creature only joyful and grateful praise can bloom. Even during the dark night we feel protected by God's wings, just as the ark of the Covenant is covered by the wings of the cherubim. And then the ecstatic expression of jubilation blossoms:  "In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy". Fear is dispelled, the embrace does not cling to emptiness but to God himself, our souls are upheld by the power of his right hand (cf Ps 62, 7-8).

6. In reading the Psalm in the light of the Easter mystery, our hunger and thirst which impel us towards God find their fulfillment in the crucified and risen Christ, from whom we receive the gift of the Spirit and the sacraments which give us new life and the nourishment that sustains it.

St John Chrysostom reminds us in commenting on the Johannine phrase: from his side "flowed blood and water" (cf Jn 19, 34), he says "that baptism and the mysteries [that is, the Eucharist] were symbolized in that blood and water". And he concludes:  "Have you seen how Christ has united his bride to himself? Have you seen with what kind of food he feeds us all? By the same food we are formed and are fed. As a woman feeds her child with her own blood and milk, so too Christ himself continually feeds those whom he has begotten with his own blood" (Homily III address to catechumens, 16-19 passim:  SC 50 bis, 160-162)."

Saluti:

"I warmly greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present, especially those from England, Finland, Ghana, Korea and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord.

Je salue cordialement les pèlerins francophones présents à cette audience, en particulier les jeunes du Collège Saint-Joseph de Tivoli de Bordeaux, les jeunes confirmands du diocèse de Reims, et les jeunes des collèges Sainte-Marguerite Marie de Josselin et Saint-Joseph de Questembert. Que le Christ ressuscité ravive en vous la soif et la faim pour accueillir sa Parole et vous mettre au service de vos frères!

Herzlich begrüße ich alle Anwesenden aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Insbesondere grüße ich die Angehörigen und Freunde der Diakone des Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum. Gerne erteile ich euch und euren Lieben daheim den Apostolischen Segen.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, humildes «Arautos do Evangelho», a todos saúdo e abençoo afectuosamente em Cristo ressuscitado, pedindo-Lhe que derrame o Seu Espírito sobre vós, vossas famílias e comunidades cristãs como fonte de água viva a jorrar até à eternidade. Louvado seja nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo!

Saludo con afecto a los peregrinos de lengua española, en especial al grupo de sacerdotes españoles que participan en un curso de actualización en el Pontificio Colegio de San José, y a "Els Amics del Corpus", de Valencia, venidos para la bendición de una "Roca" dedicada al Santo Cáliz, así como a los demás fieles procedentes de España, México y Argentina. Os deseo a todos que vuestra peregrinación a Roma en este tiempo pascual os llene de alegría y os haga valientes testigos de la Resurrección del Señor.

Srdačno pozdravljam nazočne skupine hrvatskih hodočasnika iz Splita, Zagreba i Knina, a na poseban način one iz raznih mjesta Bosne i Hercegovine, koji su već dugo vremena prisiljeni ivjeti kao izbjeglice u teškim ivotnim uvjetima.

Predragi, znajte u svjetlu Kristova Vazmenoga otajstva raditi tako da nada pobjedi i onda kada prilike izgledaju posve bezizlazne. Svakomu od vas i vašim obiteljima rado udjeljujem apostolski blagoslov.

Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Srdečně vítám poutníky z Prahy.

Dnes slavíme svátek svatého Marka, evangelisty. Jeho odpověď na Kristovo povolání, nech je světlem vašeho kesanského ivota.

K tomu vám všem ze srdce ehnám!
Chvála Kristu!

Srdečne pozdravujem slovenských pútnikov z Hlohovca a Horných Orešian.

Drahí bratia a sestry, dnes slávime sviatok svätého Marka Evanjelistu, ktorý výstine opísal osobu Jeiša z Nazareta. Usilujme sa, aby aj náš kresanský ivot bol ivým svedectvom o Kristovi.

Rád ehnám vás i vašich drahých.
Pochválený buď Jeiš Kristus!

Ik groet nu alle Nederlandse en Belgische pelgrims.

Uw bedevaart naar de graven van de apostelen voert u naar het hart van de Kerk, en is een goede gelegenheid om zich innerlijk te vernieuwen volgens de woorden van het Evangelie.

Van harte verleen ik u de Apostolische Zegen.
Geloofd zij Jezus Christus !

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar zarándokokat. Külön köszöntöm a levéltárosokat, a Magyar Rádió és Televízió küldöttségét, a fehérvári szeminárium és az országos egyháztörténeti vetélkedô csoportját.

E látogatás erôsítsen meg Bennetek a Szent Péter székével való egységben.
Szívbôl adom apostoli áldásomat.
Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Iš širdies sveikinu piligrimus lietuvius!

Prisikėls Kristus mus kviečia iš tamsos  šviesą. Tegul Dievo Dvasia mums padeda su meile tarnauti taikai ir teisingumui, kad js tėvynė ir visas pasaulis galėt šlovinti Viešpat!

Visus jus laiminu.
Garbė Jėzui Kristui!

* * * * *

Saluto ora i pellegrini di lingua italiana, tra i quali ci sono molti gruppi di fedeli delle parrocchie e di altre associazioni. In particolare, rivolgo un cordiale pensiero ai rappresentanti del Comitato Nazionale "Monumenti al Redentore" e ai Sindaci dei Comuni dove si trovano le sedici montagne sulle cui cime, nell'Anno Santo 1900, il mio predecessore Papa Leone XIII volle innalzare altrettanti monumenti al Redentore. Auspico di cuore che le iniziative promosse per commemorare tale fausto evento contribuiscano a suscitare in tutti un rinnovato entusiasmo spirituale.  

Saluto, poi, gli atleti e ifamiliari della Società Sportiva Autolelli di Ascoli Piceno, accompagnati dal Vescovo Mons. Silvano Montevecchi. Possa, carissimi, la vostra attività sportiva, animata da valori cristiani, contribuire a far sì che lo sport sia sempre un servizio alla persona umana e favorisca il sereno sviluppo della gioventù.

Rivolgo, infine, un particolare pensiero ai rappresentanti della Dieci, che celebrano il sessantesimo anniversario di fondazione, avvenuta a Bassano del Grappa. Possa questa ricorrenza sostenere il vostro impegno, carissimi, nell'annunciare la parola di Dio per la salvezza delle anime.

Desidero ora rivolgere un affettuoso pensiero ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. Celebriamo oggi la Festa di San Marco evangelista, collaboratore dell'apostolo Pietro e martire, che nel Vangelo presenta la vita del cristiano come sequela di Gesù fino alla Croce. Saluto voi, cari giovani, tra i quali ci sono tanti studenti e membri di gruppi giovanili. Vi esorto tutti a mettervi generosamente alla scuola di Cristo per imparare a seguire fedelmente le sue orme. Invito voi, cari malati, ad accogliere con fede le vostre prove e a trasformarle in misteriose ma eloquenti manifestazioni dell'amore di Cristo. A voi, cari sposi novelli, auguro di vivere il dono del matrimonio come cammino di fede per diventare servitori generosi del Vangelo della vita."