General Audience (extract), Wednesday, 30 November 2005

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Benedict XVI, Pope (Ratzinger, Joseph) 1927-

Città del Vaticano       30/11/2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Psalm 136, the subject of this week’s catechesis, is a song of lamentation for the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian Exile, a heartfelt prayer for liberation and an expression of longing for the Holy City. Its evocation of Babylon as a place of slavery and sorrow can be seen as a symbolic foreshadowing of the horrors of the death camps of the last century, in which the Jewish people were destined to extermination. In their grief, the exiles are no longer able to sing "the songs of the Lord," which can only rise up to God in freedom and in the setting of liturgical prayer. During this Advent season, the Church reads this Psalm, with its plea for liberation and its nostalgic yearning for the Holy City, as an expression of her own prayerful hope for the Lord’s coming. As Saint Augustine tells us, we are called not only to sing this Psalm, but to live it, by lifting up our hearts with profound religious longing for the heavenly Jerusalem.

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