God Is Close to Pilgrims Who Seek Him, Says Pope

General-Audience Meditation on Psalm 83(84)

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 28, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II offered a meditation on a Psalm that assures "the Lord of hosts is no longer far-removed" from the pilgrims who seek him out.



During today's general audience, held at the papal summer residence south of Rome, the Pope continued a series of catecheses on the Psalms and Old Testament canticles used in the morning prayer of lauds.

He turned his attention to Psalm 83(84), which he called "a hymn of mystic longing for the Lord of life. It evokes a pilgrimage to the Temple, the sanctuary of the living God, where the faithful find light, life and joy."

The Holy Father said the Psalm is "attributed by the Jewish tradition to the sons of Korah, a priestly family that attended to the liturgical service and guarded the threshold of the tent of the ark of the covenant."

"The background of the whole Psalm is represented by the temple toward which the pilgrimage of faithful is directed," he said.

"The temple is present in all its fascination at the beginning and end of the Psalm," the Pope said. "In the opening, we find the wonderful and delicate image of the birds who have made their nests in the sanctuary, enviable privilege.

"This is a representation of the happiness of all those -- such as the priests of the temple -- who have fixed residence in the House of God, enjoying its intimacy and peace. In fact, the whole being of the believer is stretched out to the Lord, impelled by an almost physical and instinctive desire."

He continued: "The pilgrim expresses his great happiness to spend some time in the courts of the house of God and contrasts this spiritual happiness with the idolatrous illusion, which pushes one toward 'the tents of wickedness,' namely, the infamous temples of injustice and perversion."

"Therefore," the Pope added, "for the [Church] Fathers the pilgrimage to Zion became the symbol of the continuous progress of the righteous toward the 'eternal tents,' where God receives his friends in full joy."

"The concrete pilgrimage is ... a parable of the whole of life, set between distance and intimacy with God, between the mystery and the revelation," John Paul II said.

"Even in the desert of daily existence," he added, "the six workdays of the week are made fruitful, illuminated and sanctified by the meeting with God on the seventh day through the liturgy and prayer."