JOHN PAUL II
God is our strength in the storms of life
1. The essential content of Psalm 92  on which we are reflecting today is evocatively expressed by some verses of the Hymn in the Liturgy of the Hours for Vespers of Monday: "O, immense Creator who, in the harmony of the cosmos laid out a path and a limit for the pounding waves of the sea, you gave to the harsh deserts of the parched earth the refreshment of rivers and seas".
Before entering the heart of the Psalm with its powerful image of the waters, let us understand its basic tone, the literary genre that supports it. In fact, our Psalm, like the following Psalms 95-98, is described by Bible scholars as "a song acclaiming Our Lord the King". It exalts the Kingdom of God, the source of peace, truth and love, which we pray for in the "Our Father" when we implore: "Thy Kingdom come!".
Indeed, Psalm 92  opens precisely with a joyful acclamation: "The Lord reigns!" (v. 1). The Psalmist celebrates the active kingship of God, that is, his effective and saving action which creates the world and redeems man. The Lord is not an impassive emperor relegated to his distant heavens, but is present among his people as Saviour, powerful and great in love.
The Psalmist mentions in particular the "voice" of the rivers, in other words, the roaring of their waters. Actually, the thundering of great waterfalls produces a sensation of tremendous force in those whose ears are deafened and whose whole body is seized with trembling. Psalm 41  evokes the same sensation when it says: "Deep is calling on deep, in the roar of waters; your torrents and all your waves swept over me" (v. 8). The human being feels small before this natural force. The Psalmist, however, uses it as a trampoline to exalt the power of the Lord, which is greater by far. The triple repetition of the words: "have lifted up" (cf. Ps 92 , 3) their voice, is answered by the triple affirmation of the superior might of God.
St Augustine develops the symbol of the torrents and oceans even further. Like swollen rivers in full spate, that is, filled with the Holy Spirit and strengthened, the Apostles are no longer afraid and finally raise their voice. However, "when many voices begin to announce Christ, the sea starts to get rough". In the ebb and flow of the ocean of the world, Augustine says, the little barque of the Church seems to rock fearfully, menaced by threats and persecutions, but "the Lord is full of wonder on high"; he "walked upon the waters of the sea and calmed the waves" (Esposizioni sui salmi, III, Rome 1976, p. 231).
Thus ends a short hymn, but one with real prayerful breadth. It is a prayer that instils confidence and hope in the faithful who often feel restless, afraid of being overwhelmed by the storms of history and struck by dark, impending forces.
An echo of this Psalm can be detected in the Apocalypse of John when the inspired author, describing the great gathering in heaven that is celebrating the fall of oppressive Babylon says: "I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying, "Alleluia! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns'" (19,6).
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Audience, and I offer a special word of thanks to the choirs and to the Virginia Youth Symphony Orchestra for their praise of God in music. Upon all of you, particularly the visitors from England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the United States of America, I cordially invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.