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In Finem Psalmus David (Psalm 19)

VATICAN CITY, January 30, 2002 -- Creation is an open book that speaks of God´s beauty, John Paul II said during today’s general audience when he meditated on Psalm 19.

1. The sun, with its increasing brilliance in the sky, the splendor of its light, and the beneficent warmth of its rays, has captivated humanity since the beginning. In many ways human beings have manifested their gratitude for this source of life and well-being, with an enthusiasm that often reaches the height of authentic poetry. The wonderful Psalm 19, the first part of which we have just proclaimed, is not only a prayer in the form of a hymn of extraordinary intensity; but is also a poetic song addressed to the sun and its shining on the face of the earth. In this way, the Psalmist joins a long list of singers of the ancient Near East, who exalted the day star that shines in the skies, which in their regions long dominates with its burning heat. It reminds us of the famous hymn to Aton, composed by Pharaoh Akhnaton in the 14th century B.C., and dedicated to the solar disc regarded as a divinity.

However, for the man of the Bible, there is a radical difference in regard to these solar hymns: The sun is not a god, but a creature at the service of the one God and Creator. Suffice it to remember the words of Genesis: "Then God said: Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years.´ ... God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night. ...And God saw how good it was" (Genesis 1:14,16,18).

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