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Psalm 79 (80)

Lord, come to visit your vine
Come, Lord Jesus (Rev 22, 20)

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
you who lead Joseph’s flock,
shine forth from your cherubim throne
upon Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh.
O Lord, rouse up your might,
O Lord, come to our help.

God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Lord God of hosts, how long
will you frown on your people’s plea?
You have fed them with tears for their bread,
an abundance of tears for their drink.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbours,
our enemies laugh us to scorn.

God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
to plant it you drove out the nations.
Before it you cleared the ground;
it took root and spread through the land.

The mountains were covered with its shadow,
the cedars of God with its boughs.
It stretched out its branches to the sea,
to the Great River it stretched out its shoots.

Then why have you broken down its walls?
It is plucked by all who pass by.
It is ravaged by the boar of the forest,
devoured by the beasts of the field.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted.
Men have burnt it with fire and destroyed it.
May they perish at the frown of your face.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again;
give us life that we may call upon your name.

God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on Psalm 79
General Audience, Wednesday 10 April 2002 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Lauds, Thursday Week 2 - Visit, O Lord, your vine

"1. The Psalm we just heard is a song of lament, a plea from the entire people of Israel. The first part makes use of a famous biblical symbol, the shepherd. The Lord is invoked as "the shepherd of Israel", who "leads Joseph like a flock" (Ps 79,2). From high above the Ark of the Covenant, enthroned among the cherubim, the Lord guides his flock, that is, his people, and protects them in danger.

He did this during the crossing of the desert. Now, however, he seems absent, as though asleep or indifferent. He feeds the flock he must lead and nourish (cf. Ps 22) only with the bread of tears (cf. Ps 79[80],6). Enemies scoff at this humiliated, despised people; yet God does not seem to be moved nor "to be stirred up" (v. 3), nor does he reveal his might, arrayed to defend the victims of violence and oppression. The repetition of the antiphonal invocation (cf. vv. 4.8), seeks virtually to rouse God from his detached attitude, so that he will return to be the shepherd and defender of his people.

2. In the second part of the prayer, full of tension and charged with trust, we find another symbol dear to the Bible: the vine. It is an image easy to understand because it belongs to the vision of the Promised Land and is a sign of fruitfulness and joy.

As the Prophet Isaiah teaches in one of his most exalted poetic passages (cf. Is 5,1-7), the vine is the incarnation of Israel. It illustrates two fundamental aspects: on the one hand, since it has been planted by God (cf. Is 5,2; Ps 79[80],9-10), it represents the gift, grace and love of God; on the other, it demands the labour of the farmer that enables it to produce grapes that yield wine, and thus symbolize the human response: personal effort and the fruit of good deeds.

3. Through the imagery of the vine, the psalm recalls the major milestones of Hebrew history: their roots, the experience of the Exodus from Egypt, their entry into the promised land. The vine attained its full level of extension, extending over the whole of Palestine and beyond, during Solomon's reign. Indeed, it reached out from the northern mountains of Lebanon with their cedars as far as the Mediterranean Sea, almost to the great River Euphrates (cf. vv. 11-12).

But this splendid flourishing was shattered. The Psalm reminds us that a tempest struck God's vineyard: in other words, Israel suffered a harsh trial, a brutal invasion that devastated the Promised Land. As though he were an invader, God himself broke down the walls surrounding the vineyard, letting the plunderers break in who are represented by the wild boar, held by an ancient tradition to be a fierce and impure animal. Associated with the ferocity of the boar are all wild beasts, the symbol of an enemy horde that ravages everything (cf. vv. 13-14).

4. The Psalmist then directs a pressing appeal to God to come back and defend the victims, to break his silence: "Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine" (v. 15). God will again be the defender of the vital stump of this vine, subjected to such a violent storm, and will scatter all those who have tried to tear it up or set fire to it (cf. vv. 16-17).

At this point, the Psalm opens to messianic hope. Indeed, in verse 18 the Psalmist prays: "Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!". Perhaps his first thought is of the Davidic king who, with the Lord's help, will lead the uprising for freedom. But confidence in the future Messiah is implicit, that "Son of Man" who would be sung by the Prophet Daniel (cf. 7,13-14), a title Jesus would choose as his favorite to define his work and messianic being. Indeed, the Fathers of the Church were unanimous in pointing out that the vine that the psalm describes is a prophetic prefiguration of Christ "the true vine" (Jn 15,1), and of his Church.

5. Of course, if the face of the Lord is to shine once again, Israel must be converted through fidelity and prayer to God Our Saviour. This is what the Psalmist says, when he declares: "Then we will never withdraw from you" (Ps 79[80],19).

So Psalm 79[80] is a song that is strongly marked by suffering but also by indestructible trust. God is always ready to "return" to his people, but his people must also "return" to him in fidelity. If we turn away from sin, the Lord will be "converted" from his intention to punish: this is the Psalmist's conviction that finds an echo in our hearts and opens them to hope."


"I am pleased to extend a special welcome to the officials from the NATO Defense College, as well as to the seminarians from Saint Cuthbert’s College in England. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present, particularly those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada and the United States of America, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Saviour.

J’accueille avec joie les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les jeunes du Séminaire Notre-Dame du diocèse de Namur en Belgique. Je salue aussi les pèlerins du diocèse de Vannes et leur évêque, Mgr Gourvès, un groupe d’étudiants de la Roche-sur-Yon et des jeunes des aumôneries de Bellegarde et Bourg-en-Bresse. Que le Seigneur rende fructueux votre pèlerinage et fasse grandir en vous l’amour du Seigneur ! Avec la Bénédiction apostolique.

Von Herzen heiße ich alle Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache willkommen. In besonderer Weise begrüße ich die Kommission für Ökumene des Bistums Hildesheim sowie alle Jugendlichen aus Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz. Euch allen und Euren Lieben daheim sowie allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan oder das Fernsehen verbunden sind, erteile ich gerne den Apostolischen Segen.

Uma cordial saudação ao grupo paroquial de Crestuma, vindo do norte de Portugal, e demais peregrinos de língua portuguesa, encorajando-vos a perseverar no testemunho da própria fé no vosso meio, fiéis à Igreja e aos seus ensinamentos. A todos concedo de bom grado a minha Bênção Apostólica.

Saludo a los fieles de lengua española; en especial a los misioneros de la Sociedad del Verbo Divino provenientes de varios países de América Latina y a la Cofradía de Nuestra Señora de Gamonal y San Antonio Abad, de Burgos. Que la meditación de este Salmo encuentre eco en vuestros corazones, abriéndolos a la esperanza.

Ik groet nu alle Nederlandse en Belgische pelgrims, in het bijzonder de studenten en docenten van het Grootseminarie "Rolduc", en de Bisschop van Roermond, Monseigneur Frans Wiertz. Christus heeft ons de onschatbare gave van het priesterschap nagelaten, en de Kerk rekent op u allen om getuigen te zijn van de verrezen Christus, en om de vreugde van het geloof uit te stralen. Van harte verleen ik u de Apostolische Zegen. Geloofd zij Jezus Christus!

Draga braćo i sestre, Euharistija je vrhunac hvale i zahvale što je Crkva upravlja Bogu. Ta se hvala i zahvala na tijek cijeloga dana proširuju bogoslužjem časova, zvanim Božanski časoslov (SC, 83-101), čineći da Kristovo Otajstvo prožme i preobrazi vrijeme svakoga dana (usp. KKC, 1174) Srdačno pozdravljam sve nazočne hrvatske hodočasnike te im udjeljujem apostolski blagoslov. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Srdečně vítám studenty a profesory Akademie muzických umění v Praze. Milovaní, prosím všemohoucího Boha, aby vás naplnil pravou radostí ze Zmrtvýchvstání a aby vás vždy provázel svými hojnými dary. K tomu vám ze srdce žehnám! Chvála Kristu!

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar híveket, különösen azokat, akik Budapestrôl és Tallósról érkeztek. Isten hozott Benneteket! Kérem imáitokat a Szentföld békéjéért és a nemzetek közötti megbékélésért. Szívbôl adom apostoli áldásomat Mindannyiotokra. Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Sveikinu piligrimus lietuvius! Psalmės žodžiais šiandien Bažnyčia meldžia Viešpatį aplankyti savo vynuogyną. Prisikėlusio Kristaus Dvasios vedami, su pasitikėjimu prašome Dievą taikos visam pasauliui. Viešpats telaimina jus visus ir tebūna Jis jūsų širdžių ir jūsų šeimų ramybe. Garbė Jėzui Kristui!

Щиро вітаю паломників з Києва. Мої дорогі, дякую за ваш візит і висловлюю щирі побажання, щоб ваше паломництво до могил святих Aпостолів Петра і Павла спричинилося до зросту вашого християнського свідчення. Для вас і для ваших близьких від щирого серця благаю рясних плодів небесної благодаті.


Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare i diaconi della diocesi di Milano e i novizi salesiani del noviziato di Pinerolo. Carissimi, vi esorto a fondare la vostra vita sulla salda roccia della Parola di Dio, per esserne coraggiosi annunciatori agli uomini del nostro tempo.

Saluto, poi, i fedeli della parrocchia di Santa Trofimena in Minori, come pure quelli di “Santa Maria in Progno” di Verona, che celebrano il 50° anniversario di fondazione della loro parrocchia. Auguro a ciascuno di aderire sempre più a Cristo e di partecipare con crescente generosità alla vita delle rispettive comunità cristiane.

Il mio pensiero si rivolge, infine, ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. Il Signore risorto riempia del suo amore il cuore di ciascuno di voi, cari giovani, perché siate pronti a seguirlo con entusiasmo; sostenga voi, cari malati, perché siate pronti ad accettare con serenità il peso quotidiano della sofferenza, e guidi voi, cari sposi novelli, perché la vostra famiglia cresca nella santità, seguendo il modello della Santa Famiglia.

Invito ora tutti voi ad unirvi a me nella preghiera per implorare dal Signore la pace in Terra Santa. Chiediamo alla Vergine Santa di voler intercedere affinché abbiano successo gli sforzi in atto da varie parti per superare la tragica situazione in cui versano quelle popolazioni tanto provate.

Preghiamo per la pace in Terra Santa, preghiamo per la pace in Terra Santa!"