JOHN PAUL II
Psalm 23 (24)
The Lord enters his temple!
1. The ancient chant of the People of God that we just heard, resounded in the temple of Jerusalem. To be able to grasp the main thrust of the prayer, we have to keep in mind three basic affirmations.
The first is the truth of creation: God has created the world and is its Lord. The second is the judgement to which he submits his creatures: we must appear before him and be questioned about what we have done. The third is the mystery of God's coming: he comes into the universe and into history and desires to be free to establish a relationship of intimate communion with human beings. A modern commentator said: "These are the three elementary forms of the experience of God and of our relationship with God; we live by the work of God, we live before God and we can live with God"
On the Psalms, [see in the Italian text Sui Salmi, Brescia, 1973, p. 97]).
The priests as happens in some other biblical texts called by the experts "liturgy of entrance" (cf. Ps 14; Is 33,14-16; Mi 6,6-8) respond by listing the conditions that enable one to enter into communion with the Lord in worship. They are not merely ritual or external norms to be observed, but moral and existential requisites to be lived. It is an examination of conscience or penitential act that precedes the liturgical celebration.
5. So we reach the third scene of our triptych which describes indirectly the joyful entry of the faithful into the temple to meet the Lord (vv. 7-10). With a thought-provoking exchange of appeals, questions and answers, God reveals himself progressively with three of his solemn titles: "the King of Glory, the Lord Mighty and Valiant, the Lord of Armies". The gates of the temple of Zion are personified and invited to lift up their lintels to welcome the Lord who takes possession of his home.
The triumphal scene, described by the Psalm in the third poetic picture, has been applied by the Christian liturgy of the East and of the West to the victorious Descent of Christ to the Limbo of the fathers, spoken of in the First Letter of Peter (cf. I Pet 3,19), and to the Risen Lord's Ascension into heaven (cf. Acts 1,9-10). Even today, in the Byzantine Liturgy, the Psalm is sung by alternating choirs on Holy Saturday night at the Easter Vigil, and in the Roman Liturgy it is used on the second Sunday of the Passion at the end of the procession of palms. The Solemn Liturgy of the opening of the Holy Door at the beginning of the Jubilee Year allowed us to relive with great interior emotion the same sentiments the Psalmist felt as he crossed the threshold of the ancient temple of Zion.
I extend warm greetings to the priests and religious, to the young people, parish groups and choirs, and to the various ecumenical groups present. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Sweden, Japan, Canada and the United States, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I also express my concern to the group of refugees, accompanied by the members of the Rome branch of the Jesuit Refugee Service. Today, established as World Refugee Day by the United Nations Organization, your presence recalls the 50 million refugees concentrated in some of the world's poorest regions. I warmly hope that national leaders will be able to find prompt and effective solutions to the problems that are at the root of this great suffering, and will guarantee the necessary aid so that people in exile may have the living conditions that human beings deserve.
Lastly, I extend a greeting as usual to young people, to the sick
and to newly married couples.
Dear sick people, offer your sufferings to the Lord, so that he will continue to spread his love in human hearts, also through your mysterious cooperation in his salvific sufferings.
And you, dear newly married couples, as you embark on married life, may you have recourse to the Eucharist with a fresher and livelier faith so that, nourished by Christ, you may create families inspired by an intense spiritual life and give concrete Christian witness.