By Devin Watkins
Religious men and women are called to a twofold obedience, Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass marking the World Day of Consecrated Life.
He said those two aspects are obedience to the law, “in the sense of what gives order to our lives”, and to the Spirit, “who does new things in our lives”. “The Spirit reveals the Lord, but to welcome him we need to persevere every day,” he said.
The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica also marked the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. So Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel (Lk 2:22-40), in which Jesus is presented in the Temple 40 days after his birth.
The Holy Father said the Liturgy shows “Jesus who goes out to meet his people”, calling it the feast day of encounter. “The newness of the Child encounters the tradition of the Temple; the promise finds fulfillment; young Mary and Joseph encounter the elderly Simeon and Anna.”
Religious encounter Jesus
Consecrated women and men, said Pope Francis, are called to encounter Jesus “every day of our lives… it is a daily choice.”
“What happened in the Temple also happens to us: around him everything meets, and life becomes harmonious.” He said religious find in Jesus the courage to carry on, because “the encounter with the Lord is the source.”
Pope Francis said that, by returning to the source and renewing their first love, consecrated men and women make religious life “a time of encounter”, rather than “a time that passes by”.
The original meeting with the Lord, he said, “did not arise as something private between us and God. No, it blossomed in the context of a believing people, alongside many brothers and sisters, at precise times and places.”
The Pope said encounter with Jesus takes place within the people of God and within a religious community. “God calls us to encounter him through faithfulness to concrete things: daily prayer, Holy Mass, Confession, real charity, the daily word of God.”
Pope Francis said the consecrated person’s encounter with Jesus “culminates in vision”.
Simeon, said the Pope, “sees the Child and he sees salvation.” “Simeon sees God’s simplicity and welcomes His presence.”
This vision of simplicity is the vision of consecrated life, he said. “God is enough, the rest passes away,” he said, “It is praise that gushes forth in spite of everything.”
Finally, Pope Francis summed up religious life as not being about survival but about new life, calling it “a living encounter with the Lord.”
“This then is the consecrated life: praise which gives joy to God’s people, prophetic vision that reveals what counts.”