Pope: Man's astonishment upon discovering God with him
In his commentary of Psalm 143, Benedict XVI shows "the transcendence of the supreme King of being, the universe and history" who answers "the astonished and grateful question: Lord, what is man that you manifested yourself to him?"

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Conscious of being just a "murmur", man is astonished to discover the Messiah with him, the Lord of the universe, who "lowered the heavens" as described in Psalm 143. Such was the subject the Pope spoke about in this week's general audience in the Paul VI Hall before a crowd of 8,000 people. A group of children from Beslan (Russia) was also present.

In greeting the young, the sick and the newly-wed, Benedict XVI urged them "remembering your baptism, be ready to bear witness to the joy of the faith in Christ in every situation, in health as in sickness, in family as at work, in all places."

"The hymn begins with a blessing praising the Lord," Benedict XVI said among other things, "that is celebrated with a small litany of salvific titles recalling the Lord as a safe and stable rock, loving grace, a fortress, a place of refuge, liberation and a shield that keeps away from evil's assaults (cf Psal 143: 1-2). A martial image of God, who trains His faithful to face the hostilities and dark forces of the world, emerges as well.

Faced with the all-mighty Lord and notwithstanding his regal dignity the orant feels his weaknesses and fragility. He makes a profession of humility inspired by the words of Psalms 8 and 38. He is "like a murmur", a passing shadow, fading and inconsistent, immersed in the flow of time, marked by his limits (cf Psal, 143: 4)."

"Thus, 'Why does God concern Himself with such a miserable and fleeting creature?'" asked the Pope. "The answer to this question (cf v. 3) comes when God bursts onto the scene in the so-called Theophany and its a procession of cosmic elements and historical events that celebrate the transcendence of the supreme King of being, the universe and history. Hence the mountains erupting (cf v. 5), striking thunderbolts that scatter the wicked (cf v. 6), the ocean "waters" symbolising the chaos from which the divine hand saves the king (cf v. 7). In the background only the right hand of iniquity of those who lie and bear false witness remains (cf vv. 7-8), a concrete depiction in the Semitic style of idolatry, moral perversion, and the evil that truly opposes God and His faithful."

Quoting from Origen, Benedict XVI shows the "Psalmist speaking about the fragility of the body and human condition" because "in terms of the human condition, man is nothing."

"But then comes the astonished and grateful question: Lord, what is man that you manifested yourself to him? It is great happiness for man to know his Creator".

Finally, the Pope explains that "after discovering our weaknesses and distance from God's splendour, the Psalm ends in surprise: God–Emmanuel is with us. For Christians, He has the face of Jesus Christ, God made man."

At the end of the audience, the Pope personally greeted some of those present, including PIME's own Giuseppe Negri, the newly-appointed auxiliary bishop of Florianopolis, in Brazil.