God's Tie With Chosen People Is Imaged in Marriage, Says Pope

Comments on Passages From Isaiah at General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The genuine "new age" is the discovery that God is enamored of human beings, John Paul II said in a commentary on the Book of Isaiah.



The Pope made his observation in his address at today's general audience in St. Peter's Square. He was reflecting on Isaiah 61:10 and 62:4-5, passages found in the Liturgy of Lauds.

The canticle "attempts to represent the rebirth of Jerusalem, before which a new era is about to open. The city is portrayed as a bride about to celebrate her wedding," the Holy Father told the 11,000 people on hand.

The symbol of marriage "is one of the most intense images used in the Bible to exalt the bond of intimacy and the covenant of love that exists between the Lord and the Chosen People," he said.

After being united in a covenant with God, the city of Zion, a symbol of all the people, changes its name to Jerusalem, as happens in some cultures today when a bride takes her husband's name, the Pope explained.

To explain this new age, arising from the covenant with God, the Holy Father quoted the words of the prophet: "No more shall men call you 'Forsaken,' or your land 'Desolate,' but you shall be called 'My Delight.'"

"The names that indicated the preceding situation of abandonment and desolation" are "substituted by the names of rebirth and are terms of love and tenderness, of celebration and happiness," John Paul II said.

"The distant and transcendent God, righteous judge, is now replaced by the close and enamored God," he added.

The Holy Father concluded by explaining that this conviction appears later in the New Testament and among the early Christians, who applied this canticle to the relation of Christ with his Church.

Specifically, the Pope quoted St. Ambrose (340-397), who placed on Christ's lips these words addressed to the Church: "'Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm,' that is, 'you are adorned, my soul, you are all beautiful, nothing is lacking in you!'"

John Paul II was continuing his series of meditations on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament. The meditations may be consulted at www.zenit.org/english/audience.