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Wednesday, November 26, 2003


VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2003 (VIS) - In this Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke about the Psalm 109, 'The Messiah, king and priest,' which is read every Sunday during vespers.

John Paul II said that in the first part of the psalm there is an 'oracle by God directed to the sovereign of Jerusalem whom the psalmist calls 'my Lord.' The oracle proclaims the enthronement of the descendent of David 'at the right hand' of God.'

'In the distance,' he continued, 'hostile forces are seen, which are nevertheless offset by a victorious conquest.' There is a 'general contrast between the project of God who operates through His chosen people, and the plans of those who would like to affirm their hostile and abusive power. Therefore, there is the eternal clash between good and evil which occurs in the events of history, through which God manifests Himself and speaks to us.'

The Holy Father then referred to the second part of the Psalm which 'contains a priestly prophesy in which King David is once again the protagonist. Guaranteed by a solemn divine oath, royal dignity becomes one with priestly dignity. The reference to Melchizedek, priest-king of Salem, or Ancient Jerusalem, is therefore the way to justify the special priesthood of the king alongside the official levitical priesthood of the temple of Zion. ' The Letter to the Hebrews,' he concluded, 'begins with this prophesy: 'You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek,' in order to illustrate the special and perfect priesthood of Jesus Christ.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2003 (VIS) - The Religious Association of Social and Health Care Institutes (ARIS) is celebrating the 40(th) anniversary of its founding. On this occasion, the Holy Father sent the institute a message in which he urges members to 'continue to serve the sick with competence and dedication.'

'Frequently,' writes John Paul II, 'it is difficult for those who live in situations of intense pain and sorrow to understand the meaning and significance of life. It is therefore important that there is somebody by their side to support and help them, like the Good Samaritan. People like Mother Teresa, who was recently beatified, bear witness in a simple yet specific way to the charity and compassion of Our Lord toward those who are suffering, the sick and ostracized, and the dying. While they nurse their bodily wounds, they help them to encounter Christ who, through death, revealed the complete value of life in all its phases and conditions.'

The Pope concludes the message by expressing his appreciation for the association's work in many countries, 'especially in mission territories. You help young Churches to run homes for the sick and suffering and to prepare qualified health and pastoral care workers. This collaboration among ecclesiastical communities in the North and South of the world must intensify.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 26, 2003 (VIS) - John Paul II wrote a message to Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruno, archbishop of Guatemala and president of the second American Missionary Congress, which began on November 25 and ends on November 30 in Guatemala City. In the message, the Pope recalls his trip to the American continent in 2002 and the canonization of Pedro de San Jose de Betancourt.

'The canonization of this extraordinary missionary was in a certain way,' writes the Pope, 'a prelude to the present congress' since its theme is 'The Church in America, your life is mission.' The renewed impulse to the mission 'ad gentes,'' he continues,
'demands holy missionaries and holy ecclesiastical communities in America and from America.'

'The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission, which is a 'fundamental presupposition and an irreplaceable condition for everyone in fulfilling the mission of salvation in the Church.' In the face of this universal call, we must be aware of our own responsibility to spread the Gospel. Millions of men and women who do not know Christ ' live in the hope, which is perhaps unconscious, of discovering the truth about man and God, about the path that leads to liberation from sin and death. For these people who yearn or feel nostalgia for Christ's beauty ' the proclamation of the Good News is a vital and necessary duty.'

'This congress is focused on that duty,' emphasizes the Holy Father, recalling that 'all pastoral activity must be centered on Christian initiation and formation which represents a greater guarantee that local Churches in America develop effective projects of cooperation and missionary impetus, while helping to mature and reinforce the faith of those who have already become close to the Church and attracting those who are still far away.'

'Your local Churches have the great responsibility of evangelizing the modern world,' he concludes. 'Great is the fruit that they will be able to give to the new missionary age, 'if all Christians, and missionaries and young churches in particular, respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time'.'

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