Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hope in times of distress and persecution

In these days, when everything appears to be so bleak – people forgetting God; the abuse of innocent people; wars, in which thousands are killed; abortion, where millions are killed; growing acceptance of euthanasia; the creeping advance of the homosexual agenda; breakdown of family life; suicide, unemployment, with its consequent problems of despair and conflict, etc. – the words of Pope Benedict XVI always give us a sense of hope and joy. Here is some of what he had to say while speaking at his General Audience in the Vatican on Wednesday, 14 September,

‘Today we reflect on Psalm Twenty-two, a heartfelt prayer of lamentation from one who feels abandoned by God.  Surrounded by enemies who are persecuting him, the psalmist cries out by day and by night for help, and yet God seems to remain silent.  In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the opening line of this psalm is placed on the lips of Jesus as he calls upon the Father from the Cross.  He too seems to have been abandoned to a cruel fate, while his enemies mock him, attacking him like ravenous and roaring lions, dividing his clothing among them as if he were already dead.  The psalmist recalls how, in the past, the people Israel called trustingly upon the Lord in times of trial, and he answered their prayer.  He remembers the tenderness with which the Lord cared for him personally in his earlier life, as a child in his mother’s womb, as an infant in his mother’s arms, and yet now God seems strangely distant.  Despite such adverse circumstances, through, the psalmist’s faith and trust in the Lord remains.  The psalm ends on a note of confidence, as God’s name is praised before all the nations.  The shadow of the Cross gives way to the bright hope of the Resurrection.  We too, when we call upon him in times of trial, must place our trust in the God who brings salvation, who conquers death with the gift of eternal life.’
And as Psalm 42, at the beginning of Mass, says:  Quare tristis es, anima mea, et quare conturbas me?  Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei et Deus meus.   Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why dost thou disquiet me?  Hope thou in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God