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Psalm 117 (118)

Song of rejoicing in salvation
"This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the cornerstone" (Acts 4, 11).

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
  for his love endures for ever.

Let the sons of Israel say:
  ‘His love endures for ever.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
  ‘His love endures for ever.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
  ‘His love endures for ever.’

I called to the Lord in my distress;
  he answered and freed me.
The Lord is at my side; I do not fear.
  What can man do against me?
The Lord is at my side as my helper;
  I shall look down on my foes.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
  than to trust in men;
it is better to take refuge in the Lord
  than to trust in princes.

The nations all encompassed me;
  in the Lord’s name I crushed them.
They compassed me, compassed me about;
  in the Lord’s name I crushed them.

They compassed me about like bees;
  they blazed like a fire among thorns.
  In the Lord’s name I crushed them.

I was hard-pressed and was falling,
  but the Lord came to help me.
The Lord is my strength and my song;
  he is my saviour.
There are shouts of joy and victory
  in the tents of the just.

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
  his right hand raised me.
  The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
I shall not die, I shall live
  and recount his deeds.
I was punished, I was punished by the Lord,
  but not doomed to die.

Open to me the gates of holiness:
  I will enter and give thanks.
This is the Lord’s own gate
  where the just may enter.
I will thank you for you have answered
  and you are my saviour.

The stone which the builders rejected
  has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
  a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
  we rejoice and are glad.

O Lord, grant us salvation;
  O Lord, grant success.
Blessed in the name of the Lord
  is he who comes.
We bless you from the house of the Lord;
  the Lord God is our light.

Go forward in procession with branches
  even to the altar.
You are my God, I thank you.
  My God, I praise you.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good;
  for his love endures for ever.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on Psalm 117 (118)
General Audience, Wednesday 5 December 2001 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Lauds, Sunday, Week 2 - "The stone rejected .. has become the corner stone"
v 1-2.19-20.22.24

"1. When a Christian, in unison with the voice of prayer in Israel, sings Psalm 117{118}, that we just heard, he feels within him a special thrill. In fact, he finds in this liturgical hymn two phrases that echo with a new meaning in the NT. The first is verse 22, "The stone rejected by the builders has become the corner-stone". The phrase is quoted by Jesus, who applies it to his mission of death and glory, after having told the parable of the murderous vinedressers (cf. Mt 21,42). The phrase is also recalled by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles: "This Jesus is the stone, rejected by you the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation in anyone else nor is there any other name given to men under heaven by which we are to be saved" (Acts 4,11-12). St Cyril of Jerusalem comments: "We say the Lord Jesus Christ is only one because his sonship is one; only one we say so that you do not think that there is another ... In fact he called stone, not inanimate stone nor cut by human hands, but the cornerstone, because he who believes in him will not remain disappointed" (The Catecheses, English title of the Italian version of St Cyril's Catecheses, Le Catechesi, Rome, 1993, p. 312-313).

The second phrase that the NT takes from Psalm 117 is proclaimed by the crowd at the solemn Messianic entrance of Christ into Jersualem: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Mt 21,9; cf. Ps 117,26). The acclamation is framed by a Hosanna that takes up the Hebrew petition hoshiac na',"please, save us!"

2. This splendid Biblical hymn is placed at the heart of the small collection of psalms, 112 to 117, called the Passover Hallel, namely, the psalms of praise used in Hebrew worship for the Passover and the major solemnities of the liturgical year. The processional rite can be taken as the theme of Psalm 117 articulated with the chants by the soloist or choir, with the Holy City and its Temple as the background. A beautiful antiphon begins and ends the psalm: "Praise the Lord for he is good, his mercy endures forever" (verses 1 and 29).

The word "mercy" translates the Hebrew word hesed, that designates the generous fidelity of God towards the covenanted and friendly people. Three categories of people are told to praise this fidelity: all of Israel, the "house of Aaron", namely the priests, and those "who fear the Lord", a way of speaking that includes the faithful and the proselytes, namely, the members of other nations who desire to follow the law of the Lord (cf. verses 2-4).

3. The procession makes its way through the streets of Jerusalem, because the psalm speaks of the "tents of the righteous" (cf. v. 15). There is, however, a hymn of thanksgiving (cf. vv. 5-18) whose basic message is: Even when we are in anguish, we must keep high the torch of confidence, because the powerful hand of the Lord leads his faithful people to victory over evil and to salvation.

The sacred poet uses strong and vivid images; he compares the cruel adversaries to a swarm of bees or to a column of flames that advances turning everything to ashes (cf. v.12). There is the vehement reaction of the just person, sustained by the Lord. He repeats three times "In the name of the Lord I cut them off" where the Hebrew verb refers to an intervention that destroys evil (cf. vv.10.11.12). Behind all of it, indeed, there is the powerful right hand of God, namely, his effective intervention, and certainly not the weak and uncertain hand of man. For this reason the joy of the victory over evil leads to a vibrant profession of faith: "The Lord is my strength and my song, he has become my salvation" (v. 14).

4. The procession then arrives at the temple, at the "gates of justice" (v. 19), at the Holy Door of Zion. Here a second song of thanksgiving is sung, that begins with a dialogue between the congregation and the priests to be admitted to worship. "Open to me the gates of justice: I will enter to give thanks to the Lord", the soloist says in the name of the congregation in procession: "This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter through it" (v. 20), and others reply, probably the priests.

Once they enter, they begin the hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord, who in the Temple offers himself as the stable and secure "corner stone" on which to build the house of life (cf. Mt 7,24-25). A priestly blessing descends upon the faithful who have come into the temple to express their faith, to raise their prayer and to celebrate their worship.

5. The last scene that opens before our eyes is constituted by the joyful rite of sacred dances, accompanied by the festive waving of branches: "Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar" (v. 27). The liturgy is a joyful, festive celebration, expression of the entire life that praises the Lord. The rite of the branches brings to mind the Jewish Feast of Booths, observed in memory of the pilgrimage of Israel through the desert, a solemnity in which there was a procession with palm, myrtle and willow branches.

This same rite evoked by the Psalm is proposed to the Christian in Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, celebrated in the liturgy of Palm Sunday. Christ is acclaimed as the "Son of David" (cf. Mt 21,9) by the crowd, who, "having come for the feast ... took branches of palms and went out to greet him shouting: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel" (Jn 12,12-13). At that festive celebration that is, however, the prelude to the hour of the Passion and Death of Jesus, the symbol of the cornerstone, proposed at the beginning, takes its full meaning, a glorious Easter meaning.

Psalm 117 encourages Christians to recognize in the Easter event of Jesus "the day that the Lord has made", on which "the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone". With the psalm they can then sing with great thanksgiving: " The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation" (v. 14); "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and exult in it" (v. 24)."


"I warmly welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, especially the groups from Korea, Cameroon and the United States of America. In these days of Advent, as we look to the birth of the Prince of Peace, I ask you to join me in praying for peace in the world. God bless you all!

Je vous salue, pèlerins de langue française présents à cette audience. Dans un monde marqué par la souffrance et le désarroi, soyez les témoins de la tendresse de Dieu. À tous, j’accorde de grand cœur la Bénédiction apostolique.

Ganz herzlich begrüße ich die Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Die Zeit vor Weihnachten lädt euch ein, die Türen eures Herzens für das Kommen des Herrn zu öffnen. Mit diesem Wunsch erteile ich euch, euren Lieben daheim und allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbunden sind, den Apostolischen Segen.

Saúdo cordialmente quantos me escutam, nomeadamente os peregrinos portugueses vindos do Porto. Desejo-lhes todo o bem, com as graças e luzes do Espírito Santo, em frutuosa preparação espiritual de um santo Natal. Com a minha Bênção Apostólica.

Saludo con afecto a todos los presentes de lengua española. En especial, al Grupo Cultural "Lo Rat Penat", de Valencia, a los alumnos del Colegio Sagrado Corazón, de Logroño, y a los alumnos de la Escuela de Cadetes del Servicio Penitenciario de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, así como a los demás peregrinos de España y América latina. Muchas gracias por vuestra atención.

Draga braćo i sestre, Euharistija je sakramenat ljubavi i vidljivi znak jedinstva onih koji su, posvećeni jednim jedinim krštenjem i pomazani Duhom Svetim, okupljeni oko biskupa, njihova pastira, i svećenikâ, njegovih suradnikâ u služenju Crkvi. Ona je životna snaga Crkve i očituje njezinu narav. Pozdravljam hodočasnike iz Mostarsko-duvanjske biskupije i ostale hrvatske hodočasnike. Svima udjeljujem apostolski blagoslov. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Srdečne pozdravujem skupinu pútnikov z Bratislavy. Drahí bratia a sestry, minulú nedel’u sme vstúpili do Adventného obdobia. Preživajte tento čas prípravy ako Nepoškvrnená Panna v radostnom očakávaní Vykupitel’a, ktorý prichádza. Prijmite moje Apoštolské požehnanie, ktoré rád udel’ujem vám i vašim drahým doma. Pochválený bud’ Ježiš Kristus!

Rivolgo ora un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i fedeli di Benevento, accompagnati dal loro Arcivescovo Mons. Serafino Sprovieri, e venuti a Roma a conclusione dell’Anno sul "discepolato", che ha visto la diocesi riflettere sulla testimonianza dell’Apostolo san Bartolomeo. Saluto, poi, il Corpo di Polizia Municipale di Civitavecchia e i rappresentanti di codesta Amministrazione Comunale, accompagnati dal loro Pastore Mons. Girolamo Grillo. Estendo il mio pensiero all’associazione culturale "Arycanda", all’Avis di Vittorio Veneto e alla società sportiva "Sempione 82". Saluto, inoltre, le "Ancelle dell’Amore Misericordioso", che, hanno voluto visitarmi durante il loro capitolo elettivo, e le incoraggio a progredire nella loro fedeltà al Vangelo e alla Chiesa.

Saluto, infine, i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. Il tempo di Avvento, da poco iniziato, ci presenta in questi giorni l’esempio fulgido della Vergine Immacolata. Sia lei a guidarvi, cari giovani, nel vostro spirituale cammino di adesione a Cristo. Per voi, cari malati, sia sostegno di rinnovata speranza. Mentre guidi voi, cari sposi novelli, a scoprire sempre più l’amore di Cristo."


"I feel the need to express my heartfelt sympathy for the new victims of the absurd violence that continues to bloody the region of the Middle East. Once again, with a heavy heart, I repeat that violence never resolves conflicts but only increases their tragic consequences.

I launch a new and stronger appeal to the international community to help Israelis and Palestinians, with greater determination and courage, to break the useless spiral of death. May negotiations be restarted at once, so that the much longed for peace can finally be achieved.