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Psalm 80 (81)

Solemn renewal of the covenant
Take care that no one among you has a wicked, unbelieving heart (Heb 3, 12)

Ring out your joy to God our strength,
shout in triumph to the God of Jacob.

Raise a song and sound the timbrel,
the sweet-sounding harp and the lute;
blow the trumpet at the new moon,
when the moon is full, on our feast.

For this is Israel’s law,
a command of the God of Jacob.
He imposed it as a rule on Joseph,
when he went out against the land of Egypt.

A voice I did not know said to me:
‘I freed your shoulder from the burden;
your hands were freed from the load.
You called in distress and I saved you.

‘I answered, concealed in the storm cloud;
at the waters of Meribah I tested you.
Listen, my people, to my warning.
O Israel, if only you would heed!

‘Let there be no foreign god among you,
no worship of an alien god.
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you from the land of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

‘But my people did not heed my voice
and Israel would not obey,
so I left them in their stubbornness of heart
to follow their own designs.

‘O that my people would heed me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
At once I would subdue their foes,
turn my hand against their enemies.

‘The Lord’s enemies would cringe at their feet
and their subjection would last for ever.
But Israel I would feed with finest wheat
and fill them with honey from the rock.’

Catechesis by Pope St John Paul II on Psalm 80
General Audience, Wednesday 24 April 2002 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Lauds, Thursday Week 2 - Solemn invitation to renew the covenant

"1. "Blow the trumpet at the full moon, on our feast day" (Ps 80 [81],4). These words of Psalm 80 [81], that we just proclaimed, refer to a liturgical celebration according to the lunar calendar of ancient Israel. It is difficult to identify the precise festival to which the Psalm refers; what is certain is that the biblical liturgical calendar, although it is based on the cycle of the seasons and thus of nature, it is clearly presented as firmly anchored to the history of salvation and, in particular, to the capital event of the exodus from Egyptian slavery, that is linked to the full moon of the first month (cf. Ex 12,2.6; Lv 23,5). There, God is revealed as Liberator and Saviour.

As verse 7 of the Psalm poetically states, God himself relieved the Hebrew slave in Egypt of the basket on his back, full of the bricks needed to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses (cf. Ex 1,11.14). God had stood beside the oppressed people and with his power removed the bitter sign of slavery, the basket of bricks baked in the sun, a symbol of the forced labour to which the children of Israel were constrained.

2. Let us see how this canticle of the liturgy of Israel develops. It opens with an invitation to celebrate, to sing, to make music. It is the official convocation of the liturgical assembly according to the ancient precept of worship, already established in Egypt with the celebration of the Passover (cf. Ps 80 [81],2-6a). After this call, the voice of the Lord himself is raised through the oracle of the priest in the temple of Zion, and his divine words fill the rest of the Psalm (cf. vv. 6b-17).

The theme developed is simple and rotates round two ideal poles. On the one hand there is the divine gift of freedom offered to Israel, oppressed and wretched: "In distress you called, and I delivered you" (v. 8). The Psalm also mentions the Lord's support of Israel on the journey through the desert, that is, the gift of the waters at Meribah, in a context of hardship and trial.

3. On the other hand, along with the divine gift, the Psalmist introduces another significant element. The Biblical religion is not a solitary monologue of God, an action of God destined not to be performed. Instead, it is a dialogue, a word followed by a response, a gesture of love that calls for acceptance. For this reason ample room is given to the invitations that God addresses to Israel.

The Lord first invites it to observe faithfully the First Commandment, the pillar of the whole Decalogue, that is, faith in the one Lord and Saviour and the rejection of idols (cf. Ex 20,3-5). The words of the priest speaking in God's name are punctuated by the verb "to listen", dear to the Book of Deuteronomy, which expresses obedient adherence to the Law of Sinai and is a sign of Israel's response to the gift of freedom. In fact, we hear repeated in our Psalm: "Hear, O my people ... O Israel, if you would but listen to me! ... But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would have none of me.... O that my people would listen to me...!" (Ps 80[81],9.12.14).

Only through faithful listening and obedience can the people receive fully the gifts of the Lord. Unfortunately, God must attest with bitterness to Israel's many infidelities. The journey through the desert, to which the Psalm alludes, is strewn with these acts of rebellion and idolatry which reach their climax in the representation of the golden calf (cf. Ex 32,1-14).

4. The last part of the Psalm (cf. Ps 80[81],14-17) has a melancholic tone. In fact, God expresses a longing that has not yet been satisfied: "O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!" (v. 14).

However, this melancholy is inspired by love and is united with his deep desire to fill the chosen people with good things. If Israel were to walk in the ways of the Lord, he would soon subdue their enemies (cf. v. 15), feed them "with the finest of the wheat" and satisfy them "with honey from the rock" (v. 17). It would be a joyful feast of fresh bread accompanied by honey that seems to run from the rocks of the Promised Land, representing prosperity and total well-being, a recurrent theme in the Bible (cf. Dt 6,3; 11,9; 26,9.15; 27,3; 31,20). In offering this wonderful perspective, the Lord obviously seeks to obtain his people's conversion, a response of sincere and effective love to his own love that is more generous than ever.

In the Christian interpretation, the divine offering is revealed in its fullness. Indeed, Origen gives us this interpretation: the Lord "made them enter into the promised land; there he does not feed them with manna as he did in the desert, but with the wheat that has fallen to the ground (cf. Jn 12,24-25) that is risen.... Christ is the wheat; again, he is the rock whose water quenched the thirst of the people of Israel in the desert. In the spiritual sense, he satisfied them with honey and not with water, so that all who believe and receive this food, may taste honey in their mouths" (Omelia sul Salmo 80, n. 17 [Homily on Psalm 80, n. 17]: Origen-Jerome, 74 Omelie sul Libro dei Salmi, [74 Homilies on the Book of the Psalms] Milan 1993, pp. 204-205).

5. As is always the case in the history of salvation, the last word in the contrast between God and his sinful people is never judgement and chastisement, but love and pardon. God does not want to judge and condemn, but to save and deliver humanity from evil. He continues to repeat to us the words we read in the Book of the Prophet Ezechiel: "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?... Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God; so return and live" (Ez 18,23.31-32).

The liturgy becomes the privileged place in which to hear the divine call to conversion and return to the embrace of God "merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex 34,6)."


"I am pleased to greet the members of the Gregorian University Foundation from the United States of America. I also greet the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the United States, I cordially invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

J’accueille cordialement les pèlerins francophones, en particulier les groupes de jeunes. Que Dieu, venu en son Fils sauver et libérer l’humanité du mal, soit la source de tous vos engagements de chrétiens, pour qu’en vous mettant à l’écoute de sa Parole, vous bâtissiez avec toujours plus d’ardeur son Royaume de justice et de paix! À tous, j’accorde volontiers la Bénédiction apostolique.

Ein herzlicher Gruß gilt den Pilgern und Besuchern aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. In besonderer Weise heiße ich heute die Offiziersanwärter und das Lehrpersonal der Marineschule Mürwik willkommen. Gerne erteile ich Euch allen, Euren Lieben daheim und den vielen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbunden sind, den Apostolischen Segen.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, cuja romagem se detém hoje junto do túmulo de São Pedro e neste Encontro com o seu Sucessor: Obrigado pela vossa presença e oração! A todos saúdo, confiando à Virgem Maria os vossos corações e os vossos passos para que neles se mantenha viva a luz de Deus. Para vós e vossas famílias, a minha Bênção!

Saludo con afecto a los visitantes de lengua española, en particular a los Catequistas mexicanos, acompañados por Mons. Felipe Padilla, Obispo de Tehuantepec. Saludo también a los demás peregrinos de México y de Chile. Invito a todos a agradecer al Señor su infinita misericordia y el generoso perdón con que nos salva. Muchas gracias.

Van harte groet ik alle Nederlandse en Belgische pelgrims. Moge uw bezoek aan de graven van de Apostelen u meer bewust maken van de onschatbare rijkdom van ons geloof, en uw toewijding aan het kerkelijk leven in uw land versterken. Van harte verleen ik u de Apostolische Zegen. Geloofd zij Jezus Christus !

Draga braćo i sestre, bogoslužje časova je molitva cijele Crkve, koja se odvija slijedeći tijek vremena. U njoj Crkva susreće svojega Gospodina, te se pridružuje njegovoj molitvi, koju On bez prestanka upravlja Ocu u ime ljudi i za njih. Srdačno pozdravljam članove Hrvatskoga katoličkog liječničkog društva iz Splita i sve ostale nazočne hrvatske hodočasnike. Svima udjeljujem apostolski blagoslov. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Srdečně vítám poutníky z Prahy! Moji drazí, včera jsme slavili svátek svatého Vojtěcha, prvního českého biskupa na pražském stolci. Nechť slavný odkaz tohoto světce ve vás roznítí touhu po pravdě a po službě Bohu s nerozděleným srdcem! K tomu vám rád žehnám! Chvála Kristu!

S láskou pozdravujem slovenských pútnikov z Bratislavy a okolia a z Chmel'nice. Drahí bratia a sestry, pred dvanástimi rokmi sme v Bratislave - Vajnoroch spoločne oslavovali Pána za dar viery, ktorú vaši predkovia prijali od svätého Cyrila a Metoda. Táto viera nech stále prináša hojné plody svätosti, pracovitosti a vernosti. S týmto želaním vás rád žehnám. Pochválený bud' Ježiš Kristus!

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar zarándokokat, elsô helyen azokat, akik Miskolcról jöttek. Feltámadott Krisztus Urunk világosítsa meg életetek és töltse el szíveteket örömmel és reménnyel. Szívbôl adom Rátok apostoli áldásomat. Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!


Sono lieto di salutare i partecipanti al Simposio internazionale per Cappellani cattolici e operatori pastorali dell’Aviazione civile, provenienti da diversi Paesi. Carissimi, gli aeroporti costituiscono significativi crocevia della mobilità umana; sono luoghi di incontro di persone appartenenti a varie culture. Auspico che la vostra presenza e la vostra missione all’interno di queste strutture, offrano a coloro che incontrate una tangibile esperienza dell’amore di Cristo.

Rivolgo poi un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini italiani. In particolare, saluto i fedeli di Pistoia, accompagnati dal Vescovo Monsignor Simone Scatizzi, e i numerosi gruppi parrocchiali, con un pensiero speciale per i cresimandi della parrocchia di san Francesco di Paola, in Linguaglossa. Carissimi, le vostre comunità si pongano sempre più in ascoltodelle esigenze delle famiglie e dei giovani, offrendo loro provvide occasioni di formazione cristiana. Manifestate ai poveri e ai sofferenti, con la vostra azione evangelica la tenerezza del Padre celeste, che dona a tutti amore e pace.

Il mio pensiero va infine ai giovani, ai malati e agli sposi novelli. Domani la liturgia farà memoria di san Marco evangelista che, formato alla scuola del divino Maestro, annunciò il Vangelo con instancabile ardore. Il suo esempio e la sua intercessione incoraggino voi, cari giovani, a vivere in modo autentico e coerente la vostra vocazione cristiana; aiutino voi, cari malati, a perseverare nella speranza e ad offrire le vostre sofferenze in unione a quelle di Cristo per la salvezza dell’umanità; sostengano voi, cari sposi novelli, nel reciproco impegno di fedeltà e di amore.


Il mio pensiero è sempre rivolto alla Basilica della Natività a Betlemme, ove la comunità religiosa e numerose altre persone continuano a subire l’assedio, che si prolunga da ormai ventidue giorni. Le loro condizioni, già drammatiche per la mancanza di acqua e di cibo, si sono ulteriormente aggravate dopo l’interruzione delle linee telefoniche. Continuiamo a pregare il Signore perché si trovi finalmente una soluzione a questa disumana situazione e si giunga, con l’apporto di tutti, alla desiderata pace in quella Regione tanta cara al cuore di tutti i credenti."