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VATICAN CITY, APR 10, 2002 (VIS) - Psalm 79, "Visit, oh Lord, your vine,"
was the theme of the Pope's catechesis during the general audience
celebrated this Wednesday in St. Peter's Square.

The psalm, said the Holy Father, "is a song of lament and a supplication
of all the people of Israel. ... The Lord is invoked as 'shepherd of
Israel'," who "from the height of the arch of the covenant, assisted by the
angels, guides His flock, His people, and protects them from all danger."

Using the image of a vine, "sign of fertility and joy," the psalm evokes
the "main periods of Jewish history." The vine "represents, on one hand,
the gift, grace and love of God; on the other hand, it requires the work of
a farmer ... and therefore, represents the human response, personal
compromise and fruit of just works."

"The psalm reminds us that on God's vine the storm has passed, that is,
Israel has endured a severe trial, a hard invasion that has devastated the
promised land ... For this reason, (Israel) directs an urgent plea to God
so He returns to defend the victims, breaking His silence."

The Pope concluded by underlining that Psalm 79 is a "song marked by
suffering, but also by unshakable faith. God is always willing to 'return'
to His people, but it is necessary also that the people 'return' to Him in
fidelity. If we convert from sin, the Lord will 'convert' from His
intention to punish: this is the psalmist's belief which echoes in our
hearts, opening us up to hope."

At the end of the audience, speaking Italian to the pilgrims present,
John Paul II said: "I invite everyone to join me now in prayer to implore
the Lord for peace in the Holy Land. Let us ask the Holy Virgin to
intercede so that the present efforts of the various parties are successful
in order to overcome the tragic situation in which those people, so tried,
find themselves. Pray for peace in the Holy Land!"
AG/PSALM 79/... VIS 20020410 (340)

Courtesy of: Vatican Information Service/Catholic Information Network