1. The Book of Revelation is studded with Canticles that are raised to God, Lord of the universe and of history. We have just heard one of them, which we constantly encounter in every one of the four weeks embraced by the Liturgy of Vespers.
1. The liturgy today commemorates theNativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.This feast, very important to popular piety, leads us to admire in Mary the Child, the purest dawn of the Redemption.We are contemplating a little girl like every other, yet at the same time the only one who was "blessed among women" (Lk 1: 42). Mary was the immaculate "Daughter of Zion", destined to become the Mother of the Messiah.
1. The living God and the lifeless idol are juxtaposed in Psalm 115[113B], one in the series on the Psalms of Vespers, that we have just heard. The ancient Greek translation of the Bible called the Septuagint, followed by the Latin version of the ancient Christian Liturgy, joined this Psalm in honour of the true Lord with the one that precedes it. The result is a single composition which, however, is clearly divided into two distinct texts (cf. Ps 114[113A] and Ps 115[113B].
1. Today, as I announced last Sunday, our traditional weekly meeting has a special profile. Indeed, here we are gathered in prayer around thevenerable Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan, which is on the point of setting out on the return journey to Russia, which it left one day long ago.
1. Continuing an ancient tradition, Psalm 110 which has just been proclaimed constitutes the primary component of Sunday Vespers. It is proposed in all four of the weeks into which theLiturgy of the Hours is divided. Its brevity is further accentuated by the exclusion in Christian liturgical usage of verse 6, which contains a curse. This does not do away with the difficulties it presents for exegesis or for its interpretation. The text is presented as a royal Psalm connected to the Davidic dynasty and probably refers to the rite of the sovereign's enthronement. Yet the Judaic and Christian tradition has seen in the consecrated king the profile of the Consecrated One par excellence: the Messiah, Christ.
1. Next Saturday and Sunday, I will be making an Apostolic Pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Lourdes. In that blessed place, I shall have the joy of celebrating the Solemnity of the Assumption into Heaven of Mary Most Holy.
1. On our journey through the Psalms and Canticles that make up the Liturgy of the Hourswe have come to the Canticle in Philippians (2: 6-11) that is a feature of First Vespers on all of the four Sundays that the Liturgy covers.
1. After hearing it and making it a prayer, we have the opportunity to meditate on a Psalm that is charged with strong spiritual tension. Despite the difficulties the original Hebrew text presents, especially in the first verses, Psalm 16 is a luminous canticle with a mystical dimension, as the profession of faith at the beginning immediately suggests: "You are my God. My happiness lies in you alone" (v. 2). Thus, God is seen as the only good, and so the person of prayer chooses to rank himself with the community of all those who are faithful to the Lord: "He has put into my heart a marvellous love for the faithful ones who dwell in his land" (v. 3). This is why the Psalmist radically rejects the temptation of idolatry with its offerings of blood and its blasphemous invocations (cf. v. 4).
1. At this General Audience, after the interval I spent in the Valle d'Aosta, let us now continue on our journey through the Psalms proposed by theLiturgy of Vespers. Today we come to the 14th of the 22 strophes that make up Psalm 119, a grandiose hymn to the Law of God and an expression of his will. The number of the strophes corresponds to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and suggests fullness; each one is composed of eight verses and of words that begin with the corresponding letter in alphabetical order.
1. Yesterday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, venerated in a special way here in Rome, where both of them sealed with blood their wonderful witness of love for the Lord. This year, the solemn Eucharistic Liturgy was enriched by the fraternal participation of His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic encounter in Jerusalem between my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Athenagoras.