THE ENGLISH summary of Pope John Paul II's weekly general audience, given at St Peter's on Wednesday, January 8, 2003:
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the joy of this Christmas Season, we contemplate Psalm 99.
"This Psalm calls the faithful to go within the Lord's gates blessing his name and acclaiming him through service and praise. It is a celebration of God's covenant understood as a sign of a loving relationship in which "mercy" and "fidelity" are joined to "goodness" (see Psalm 99:5). It affirms our membership in the family of God: "we belong to him, we are his people" (Psalm 99:3). The Psalm thus becomes a kind of profession of faith in which we proclaim that the Lord is good and will never abandon us. He will always be there to sustain us with his merciful love. In this faith we entrust ourselves fully to his. loving mercy.
"I extend a warm welcome to the Englishspeaking pilgrims present today, including the groups from Denmark, New Zealand, and the United States of America.
"Upon all of you and your families, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Happy New Year!"