JOHN PAUL II
Praise the Lord, King of all the earth
1. "The Lord, the most high, is a great King over all the earth!". This initial acclamation is repeated in different tones in Psalm 46 (47), which we just prayed. It is designed as a hymn to the sovereign Lord of the universe and of history: "God is king over all the earth ... God rules over all nations" (vv. 8-9).
Like other similar compositions in the Psalter (cf. Ps 92; 95-98), this hymn to the Lord, the king of the world and of mankind presumes an atmosphere of liturgical celebration. For that reason, we are at the heart of the spiritual praise of Israel, which rises to heaven from the Temple, the place where the infinite and eternal God reveals himself and meets his people.
2. We will follow this canticle of joyful praise in its fundamental moments like two waves of the sea coming toward the shore. They differ in the way they consider the relationship between Israel and the nations. In the first part of the psalm, the relationship is one of domination: God "has subdued the peoples under us, he has put the nations under our feet" (v. 4); in the second part, instead, the relationship is one of association: "the princes of the peoples are gathered with the people of the God of Abraham" (v. 10). One can notice great progress.
In the first part (cf. vv. 2-6) it says, "All you peoples clap your hands, shout to God with joyful cries!" (v. 2). The centre of this festive applause is the grandiose figure of the supreme Lord, to whom the psalm attributes three glorious titles: "most high, great and terrible" (v. 3). They exalt the divine transcendence, the absolute primacy of being, omnipotence. The Risen Christ will also exclaim: "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me"
In Christ then, the kingship of God, sung by our psalm, is realized on earth in the meeting of all people. This is the way an anonymous 8th century homily commented on this mystery: "Until the coming of the Messiah, hope of the nations, the Gentiles did not adore God and did not know who he is. Until the Messiah redeemed them, God did not reign over the nations through their obedience and their worship. Now instead, with his Word and his Spirit, God reigns over them because he saved them from deception and made them his friends" (Anonymous Palestinian, Arab-Christian Homily of the Eighth Century, Rome 1994, p. 100).
At the end of his commentary, the Holy Father greeted the 23,000 pilgrims and visitors in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Flemish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian and Italian. Among the Italian pilgrims, he singled out for mention the Italo-Chinese Institute and Fr Matteo Ricci. Here is a translation of his remarks given in Italian.
I cordially greet the directors of the Italo-Chinese Institute which is promoting, along with others, the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of Fr Matteo Ricci in Peking. There will be two International Congresses in the month of October, the first at Peking, the second in Rome, with the participation of Chinese, American and European experts to remember the person and the apostolic activities of that great Jesuit missionary. I follow these important initiatives with great interest and I wish them great success because the figure of Matteo Ricci is an influential one for those who are engaged in preaching of the Gospel in a variety of cultural and religious contexts.
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, Malta, Japan, Korea, Uganda and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.