JOHN PAUL II
Psalm 96 
1. The light, joy and peace that fill the community of the disciples of Christ at Easter and that spread throughout creation, pervade our gathering that is taking place during the joyful days of the Octave of Easter. In these days it is Christ's triumph over evil and death that we celebrate. With His Death and Resurrection the Kingdom of justice and love that God desires is definitively established.
Today we will focus on the Kingdom of God in our catechesis
given over to a reflection on Psalm 96 . The Psalm begins with the
solemn announcement: "The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the
many coastlands be glad", and is defined as a celebration of the
divine King, the Lord of the cosmos and of history. We could say that this is
an "Easter" Psalm.
2. Let us now read through the Psalm that the liturgy presents for our celebration of Lauds. Immediately after the acclamation to the Lord as King that rings out like a trumpet blast, a great divine epiphany unfolds before the person at prayer. Resorting to the use of quotations, allusions to other passages of the psalms or of the prophets, especially Isaiah, the psalmist describes the coming of the great King onto the world scene who appears surrounded by a series of cosmic ministers or attendants: clouds, thick darkness, fire, lightning.
Alongside of them, another series of attendants personifies
his action in history: justice, right and glory. Their entry onto the
scene makes all creation quake. The earth rejoices everywhere, including the
islands, considered the most remote region (cf. Ps 96 ,1). Flashes of
light light up the whole world and an earthquake makes the world tremble (cf.
v. 4). The mountains, that, according to biblical cosmology, incarnate the
most ancient and solid reality, melt like wax (cf. v. 5), as the Prophet Micah
sang: "Behold, the Lord is coming forth out of his place ... and
the mountains will melt under him and the valleys will be cleft, like wax
before the fire" (Mi 1,3-4). Angels fill the heavens with songs of praise
that exalt justice, the work of salvation brought about by the Lord for the
just. Finally, all humanity contemplates the revelation of the divine glory,
the mysterious reality of God (cf. Ps 96 ,6), while the
"enemies", the wicked and the unjust, give way before the
irresistible power of the judgement of the Lord (cf. v. 3).
The Prophet Malachi declared, "For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays" (Ml 3,20). Light and happiness go together: "Joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!" (Ps 96 ,11-12).
The Kingdom of God is a source of peace and serenity that overpowers the empire of darkness. A Jewish community in the time of Jesus sang: "Godlessness draws back before justice, just as darkness shrinks from light; godlessness will vanish forever and justice, like the sun, will be shown to be the beginning of the order of the world" (Libro dei misteri di Qumrln [Book of the Mysteries of Qumran]: 1Q 27, I, 5-7).
5. However, before we leave Psalm 96 , it is important that we rediscover, along with the face of the Lord the King, the profile of the faithful. Seven features are described, the sign of perfection and fullness. Those who await the coming of the great divine King hate evil, love the Lord, are the hasîdîm, the faithful (cf. v. 10), who walk in the path of justice, are upright of heart (cf. v. 11), rejoice in the works of God and give thanks to the holy name of the Lord (cf. v. 12). Let us ask the Lord to make these spiritual features shine in our faces.
The Holy Father then addressed the faithful in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Hungarian, Croatian and Italian, with a special word for the young people, the sick and the newly-wed. To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors he said:
I offer a warm welcome to the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn in pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. I also thank the many Choirs present for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Japan and the United States, I cordially invoke the grace and peace of the Risen Lord.