God's Forgiveness Is What Gives True Happiness, Pope Says

Reflects on Psalm 50, "Miserere," at the General Audience

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, JULY 30, 2003 (Zenit.org).- True happiness lies in experiencing God's forgiveness, which requires repentance, John Paul II said.



The Pope made that observation today at the general audience when he offered the 1,000 pilgrims in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo a reflection of Psalm 50, the Miserere, or "Mercy, my God."

The Miserere is one of the most recited biblical passages by Jews and Christians of all times. The Holy Father presented the Psalm as "an oasis for meditation, where one can discover the evil that nests in the conscience and invoke from the Lord purification and forgiveness."

In the light of the biblical composition, it is possible to understand better "the limit and fragility of the human creature, his perverse capacity to sow evil and violence, impurity and falsehood."

However, the Pope added, the Psalm is above all a "message of hope": "God can 'cancel, wash, clean' the fault confessed with a contrite heart."

Thus the Psalm becomes a song of "hope" as the believer is "aware of having been forgiven by God"; proclaims "to the world the praise of the Lord, attesting in this way the joy felt by the soul purified of evil and, consequently, freed from remorse."

In the light of this passage of an intense poetic nature, which Jewish tradition attributed to King David, one understands that the sacrifice that is most pleasing to the Lord is a "broken and contrite heart."

At the same time, the Psalm illustrates clearly that "sinners are not able to purify themselves," as "good sentiments are not enough."

"An external effective mediation is needed. The New Testament will reveal the full meaning of this intuition, showing that with the offering of his life, Christ has effected the perfect sacrificial mediation."

At the end of the audience, greeting his fellow countrymen in Polish, the Pope said: "I pray that God will give each one of us true repentance and a sincere confession of our sins every time that we approach the sacrament of Penance."

With his address at the general audience, John Paul II continued the series of weekly meditations he has been offering since March 28, 2001 on the Psalms and Canticles of the Old Testament. They may be read in the "Wednesday Audience" section of ZENIT's Web page http://www.zenit.org/english/audience/.