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Psalm 84 [85]

Our salvation is very near
“When our Saviour came on earth God blessed his land” ” (Origen).

O Lord, you once favoured your land
  and revived the fortunes of Jacob,
you forgave the guilt of your people
  and covered all their sins.
You averted all your rage,
  you calmed the heat of your anger.

Revive us now, God, our helper!
  Put an end to your grievance against us.
Will you be angry with us for ever,
  will your anger never cease?

Will you not restore again our life
  that your people may rejoice in you?
Let us see, O Lord, your mercy
  and give us your saving help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
  a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people and his friends
  and those who turn to him in their hearts.
His help is near for those who fear him
  and his glory will dwell in our land.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
  justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
  and justice look down from heaven.

The Lord will make us prosper
  and our earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
  and peace shall follow his steps.

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on Psalm 84
General Audience, Wednesday 25 September 2002 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Week III, Tuesday Lauds: Our salvation is near

"1. Psalm 84 [85], which we have just heard sung, is a joyful hymn full of hope in the future of our salvation. It reflects the happy moment of Israel's return from the Babylonian Exile to the land of the fathers. The life of the nation begins again in that beloved homeland, burnt-out and destroyed in the conquest of Jerusalem by the army of King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.

Indeed, in the original Hebrew of the Psalm one hears repeated the verb shûb, which refers to the return of the deported but it also means a spiritual "return", or a "conversion". The rebirth, therefore, does not only refer to the nation, but also to the community of the faithful who regarded the exile as a punishment for the sins they had committed, and now see their repatriation and new freedom as a divine blessing that is the result of their conversion.

2. We can follow the Psalm in its development according to two fundamental stages. The first is articulated by the subject of "return", with the two meanings we mentioned.

Israel's physical return is celebrated first of all. "Lord ... you did restore the fortunes of Jacob" (v. 2); "Restore us again, O God of our salvation.... Will you not revive us again?" (vv. 5.7). This is a precious gift of God, who is concerned to deliver his People from oppression and promotes their prosperity. Indeed, you "love all things that exist ... spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord who love the living" (cf. Wis 11,24.26).

However, besides this "return" that concretely unifies those who were scattered, there is another more interior and spiritual "return". The Psalmist allows it ample room, attributing a special importance to it that applies not only to ancient Israel, but to the faithful of all time.

3. In this "return" the Lord acts effectively, revealing his love in forgiving the iniquity of his People, pardoning all their sins, withdrawing all his wrath and putting an end to his anger (cf. Ps 84[85],3-4).

In fact, their deliverance from evil, the pardon of their faults and the purification of sins create the new People of God. This is expressed in an invocation that has also entered the Christian liturgy: "Show us, O Lord, your mercy and grant us your salvation" (v. 8).

However, to the "return" of God who forgives must correspond the "return", that is, the "conversion", of the one who repents. In fact, the Psalm says that peace and salvation are offered "to those who turn to him in their hearts" (v. 9). Those who set out with determination on the path of holiness receive the gifts of joy, freedom and peace.

It is well known that biblical terms for sin often refer to a mistaken direction, a missed goal, a deviation from the straight path. Conversion is, precisely, a "return" to the straight road that leads to the house of the Father who waits to embrace us, pardon us and make us happy (cf. Lk 15,11-32).

4. Thus we come to the second part of the Psalm (cf. Ps 84[85],10-14), so dear to Christian tradition. It describes a new world in which God's love and his faithfulness embrace each other as if they were persons. Similarly, justice and peace meet and kiss each other. Truth sprouts up as if in a new springtime and justice, which for the Bible also means salvation and holiness, appears from heaven to begin its journey in the midst of humanity.

All the virtues, at first expelled from the earth by sin, now re-enter history and meet, drawing the map of a world of peace. Mercy, truth, justice and peace become the four cardinal points of this geography of the spirit. Isaiah also sings: "Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down. Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up. I, the Lord, have created this" (Is 45,8).

5. The Psalmist's words, already in the second century, were re-read by St Irenaeus of Lyons as a proclamation of the "generation of Christ from the Virgin" (Adversus haereses, III, 5, 1). Indeed, Christ's coming is the source of mercy, the springing up of truth, the flowering of justice, the splendour of peace.

For this reason, especially in the last part, the Psalm is reread by Christian tradition in terms of Christmas. This is how St Augustine interprets it in a discourse for Christmas. Let us allow him to conclude our reflection. ""Truth, then, is sprung out of the earth: Christ who said, "I am the truth', is born of a virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: man, believing in him who has been born, has been justified not by himself, but by God. Truth is sprung out of the earth, for the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven, for every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above. Truth is sprung out of the earth - flesh born of Mary. And justice looked down from heaven, for a man cannot receive anything, unless it be given him from heaven" (Discorsi, IV/1, Rome 1984, p. 11; Sermon 185, [Roman Breviary, 24 December, Second Reading])."


"I am pleased to greet the Felician Sisters meeting in Rome for their Biennial Assembly, as well as the Missionary Benedictine Sisters taking part in a Week of Encounter. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Australia and the United States, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

J’accueille cordialement les pèlerins francophones, en particulier les membres de la section aquitaine de l’Institut des Hautes Études de la Défense Nationale, l’Association «Science-Philosophie-Théologie» de Paris, ainsi que le groupe Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, de Canteleu. Que le Christ Sauveur féconde les efforts de tous les artisans de paix et qu’il les aide à rechercher sans se lasser le Royaume de Dieu et sa justice.

Herzlich begrüße ich die Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Besonders heiße ich heute die Wallfahrergruppe „Rom im Rollstuhl" des Schönstatt-Werkes aus der Schweiz willkommen. Gott mache euch alle zu Boten seiner Langmut und Liebe!

Aos grupos vindos do Brasil e de Portugal e demais peregrinos de língua portuguesa, as minhas boas-vindas com uma saudação afectuosa, sobre todos implorando a misericórdia, a verdade, a justiça e a paz que frutificam numa vida fiel a Deus.

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en especial al grupo Peregrinación Mariana de Perú y a los representantes de la Federación Catalana de Fútbol. Invito a todos a que hagan de esta visita a Roma una ocasión especial de conversión y fortalecimiento de su fe. Os bendigo de todo corazón.

Nu een woord van welkom aan alle Nederlandse en Belgische pelgrims! Moge uw bedevaart naar de graven van de Apostelen u helpen om Christus te volgen in het dagelijkse leven. Van harte verleen ik u de Apostolische Zegen. Geloofd zij Jezus Christus!

Srdečnĕ zdravím skupinu poutníků z České republiky. Moji drazí, při vaší pouti k hrobu sv. Petra at' posílí vaši víru jeho slova „Kéž spíše rostete v milosti a poznání našeho Pána a Spasitele Ježíše Krista" (2 Pt 3, 18). Vydávejte pak o tom svědectví, všude, kam přijdete. Z celého srdce žehnám vám i vašim drahým ve vlasti. Chvála Kristu!

Srdečne vítam pútnikov z Bratislavy a Nitry. Osobitne pozdravujem skupinu z Farnosti svätého Egídia z Bardejova, ktorí sa prišli pod‘akovat‘ za dar Baziliky minor. Drahí Bratia a sestry, žerám vám aby vaša pút‘ ku robom svätých apoštolov Petra a Pavla znamenala pre každého z vás obnovu krest‘anskej viery. Rád žehnám vás i vaše rodiny doma. Pochválený bud‘ Ježiš Kristus!

Nagy szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar zarándokokat, akik Budapestrôl és Várpalotáról érkeztek. Isten hozott Benneteket! Tegnap ünnepeltétek Szent Gellért püspök, vértanú emléknapját. A szent bencés élete példája erôsítsen meg Titeket a hit zarándokútján. Szeretettel adom Rátok apostoli áldásomat. Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Nuođirdţiai sveikinu piligrimus lietuvius. Brangieji, tegul nepaliauja jűsř malda uţ taikŕ ir teisingumŕ pasaulyje, o jűsř darbus teákvepia Kristus ir Jo Evangelija. Vieđpats telaimina jus visus! Garbë Jëzui Kristui!

[In Polish] Today is the 49th anniversary of the arrest by the Communist regime of the Servant of God Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Primate of the Millennium, on 25 September 1953. It was an act of persecution against the Church. Today we speak of the Psalms. Perhaps what they express is expressed by the short psalm "Laudate Dominum" that was sung at the end of Benediction. I remember that we sang it in Poland, in Wadowice during Vespers. "Praise the Lord all you nations, praise him all you peoples, for his mercy is confirmed upon us and his truth remains forever. Glory to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit ...".

Rivolgo un cordiale saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare ai componenti dell’AVIS di Milano e Parabiago, ai fedeli di Travacò Siccomario e ai ministranti di Linguaglossa. Una parola di apprezzamento e di vivo incoraggiamento rivolgo poi ai rappresentanti della "Catholica Unio Internationalis", giunti a Roma per l’Assemblea generale, e ai missionari della Consolata partecipanti ad un Corso di formazione.

Come di consueto, il mio pensiero va adesso ai giovani, agli ammalati ed agli sposi novelli. Carissimi giovani, siate sempre fedeli all’ideale evangelico e realizzatelo nelle vostre quotidiane attività. Carissimi ammalati, vi sia ogni giorno di sostegno nelle vostre pene la grazia del Signore. Ed a voi, cari sposi novelli, rivolgo un paterno benvenuto invitandovi ad aprire l’animo all’amore divino perché vivifichi la vostra esistenza familiare."