God Reigns Through Humility, Pope Says

Comments on Psalm 95(96) at General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II reflected on one of the most incomprehensible paradoxes of Christianity: God reigns by humbling himself.



Looking upon the crucified Christ brings one to understand that his throne is one "of love, not dominion," the Pope said during today's general audience, held in Paul VI Hall. This reality enables one to pass from "fear before the transcendent justice of God to the real experience of his love."

Continuing his series of meditations on biblical canticles, the Holy Father meditated on Psalm 95(96), which presents God as the King of the universe. The Pope concluded by offering a Christian view of the Psalm.

Addressing the 7,000 pilgrims on hand, the Pope said that this Psalm gives us "the certainty that we are not abandoned to the dark forces of chaos or chance, but are ever in the hands of a just and merciful Sovereign."

The canticle, often evoked in the liturgy, impresses John Paul II because it was written at a time when Israel was a small and oppressed people among great neighboring empires.

And yet, it repeatedly asks all human beings: "Sing to the Lord, all the earth." It invites the faithful "to declare the glory of God among the peoples" and then to address "all the peoples" and proclaim his "marvelous deeds," the Pope said.

The Israelites understood that "great is the Lord and highly to be praised; to be feared above all gods. For the gods of the nations all do nothing, but the Lord made the heavens," John Paul II explained.

The Holy Father added that through "the liturgy and prayer, the faith of every generation is purified, those idols to which one sacrifices easily during daily life are abandoned, passing from fear before the transcendent justice of God to the real experience of his love."

The Pope recalled interpretations of the Psalm by the Church Fathers. In 379, for example, Gregory of Nazianzen explained that God's royalty was manifested in Jesus' incarnation.

Explaining the saint's thought, John Paul II said that God "reigns specifically in humiliation on the cross."

This is why martyrs such as St. Justin invited "all the people to rejoice because 'the Lord reigned from the wood' of the cross," the Pope said.

The Holy Father reiterated Jesus' exhortation from Mark 10: "Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."