By Christopher Wells
At the Mass for the Presentation of the Lord, Pope Francis focused on the words of Simeon when he encountered Christ in the Temple: “My eyes have seen your salvation” (Lk 2:30).
Speaking directly to consecrated men and women, present for the World Day of Consecrated Life, the Pope said that they, like Simeon, “are simple men and women who caught sight of the treasure worth more than any worldly good”. The ability to recognize Jesus, to see “what really matters in life”, is at the heart of religious life, he said.
This vision, he explained, begins with “knowing how to see grace”, especially by seeing how God works in our lives, “not only in life’s grand moments, but also in our fragility and weakness. He warned that “seeing things in a worldly way” is a great temptation in religious life, which can lead to a loss of passion, sadness, distrust. Being able “to perceive God’s grace for us, like Simeon”, on the other hand, gives meaning to the gift of voluntary poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Continuing his reflection on the figure of Simeon, Pope Francis said that he “sees Jesus as small, humble, the one who has come to serve, not to be served, and defines Himself as servant”. Seeing Jesus in this way, and being able to see things as He does, will teach us how “to live in order to serve”. The Pope said “we need to have a gaze that seeks out our neighbour”; and religious are called to bring that gaze into our world.
Finally, Pope Francis said “the eyes of Simeon saw salvation because they were expecting it. They were eyes that were waiting, full of hope”. Like Simeon and Anna in the Temple, religious must have hope. The secret, he said, is “never to alienate oneself from the Lord, who is the source of hope”.
The Holy Father concluded his homily with the exhortation, “Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God for the gift of the consecrated life and ask of him a new way of looking, that knows how to see grace, how to look for one’s neighbour, how to hope”. “Then”, he said, “our eyes too will see salvation”.