Vatican City, 2 February 2014 (VIS) – On the 18th World Day for Consecrated Life, on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica with members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. For the first time in his pontificate, the Bishop of Rome began the rite with the blessing of the candles used in the procession before the Eucharistic celebration and in his homily he emphasised the importance of the encounter between observance and prophecy, the young and the elderly, within consecrated life.
“The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is … the encounter between Jesus and His people … represented by the elderly Simeon and Anna. … It was also an encounter within the history of a population, an encounter between the young and the elderly: the young were Mary and Joseph, with their newborn son; and the elderly were Simeon and Anna”.
The Pope remarked that in the Gospel of St. Luke, “one intuits, almost perceives that Jesus' parents have the joy of observing the precepts of God, the joy of walking according to the law of the Lord! They are two newly-weds, they have just had their baby, and they are motivated by the desire to do what is prescribed. This is not an external fact ... It is a strong, profound desire, full of joy”.
St. Luke affirms that Simeon was “a just and pious man, who awaited the consolation of Israel, and that Anna was 'a prophetess'”. He comments that they are both “full of life, because they are inspired by the Holy Spirit”. And “at the centre of this encounter there is Jesus. It is He Who sets everything in motion, who attracts them to the Temple, which is the house of the Father.
It is an “encounter between the young who are full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord, and the old, full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a singular encounter between observation and prophecy. … In the light of this scene in the Gospel, let us regard the consecrated life as an encounter with Christ: it is He Who comes to us; brought to us by Mary and Joseph, and we are led towards Him by the Holy Spirit. But He is in the centre. … He moves everything along, He attracts us to the Temple, to the Church, where we are able to encounter Him, recognise Him”.
Jesus comes towards us in the Church through the foundational charism of an Institute: it is good to think of our vocation in this way. Our encounter with Christ has taken shape within the Church through the charism of one of its witnesses. … And also in consecrated life, we live the encounter between the young and the elderly, between observance and prophecy. Let us not see these as two opposing realities! Let us rather allow the Holy Spirit to animate both of them, and a sign of this is joy: the joy of journeying within a rule of life; the joy of being led by the Spirit, never unyielding, never closed, always open to voice of God that speaks, that opens, that leads us and invites us to go towards the horizon”.
“It is good for the elderly to communicate their wisdom to the young; and is good for the young to gather this wealth of experience and wisdom, and to carry it forward, not so as to preserve it in a museum, but to bring it forward in addressing the challenges of life, to carry it forward for the good of the various religious orders and of the entire Church”, concluded the Holy Father.