Thursday, 17 July 2003

Castel Gandolfo (Fides Service) – Pope John Paul II held his first Summer audience for a small group of lucky people on Wednesday 16 July in the courtyard of his residence at Castel Gandolfo in the cool of the Roman hills. Continuing his teaching on the psalms the Pope reflected on the Canticle of Isaiah 66, 10-14: “In the city of God consolation and joy”.
The canticle is a song of joy “dominated by the maternal figure of Jerusalem and then by the loving concern of God himself” the Holy Father explained. “Bible scholars consider this last part, which opens to a splendid and festive future, is the testimony of a later voice, that of a prophet who celebrates the rebirth of Israel after the dark parenthesis of the Babylonian exile.” The canticle opens with three imperatives which call to happiness: , , . “The source and the reason for this interior exultance lie in the rediscovered vitality of Jerusalem, risen from the ashes of the ruin into which it had fallen when it was destroyed by the Babylonian armies…as it happens in various cultures, the city is represented with feminine, indeed maternal images. When a city is at peace it is similar to a womb protected and safe; indeed it is like a mother who nourishes her children with abundance and tenderness…The prosperity of Jerusalem, her peace (shalom), a generous gift of God, assures her children an existence surrounded with maternal tenderness and this maternal tenderness will be the tenderness of God himself: thus the Lord uses the maternal metaphor to describe his love for his creatures”.
Broadening our vision, the Pope concluded, from the city-mother we can reach the profile of the Church, virgin and fecund mother: in fact “What married women has more children than the Church? She is virgin for the sanctity received in the sacraments and mother of peoples”. At the end of his teaching, greeting the visitors present the Pope recalled that it was the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and he presented Mary as a “model to whom we can constantly refer to find in her example inspiration and sure guidance. I exhort you to invoke her always: this will be for you a motive of comfort and hope”. SL (Fides Service 17/7/2003 EM lines 26 Words: 376)

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