On the day of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, Francis affirms that when it blooms, consecrated life is a call "to counter mediocrity: to counter a devaluation of our spiritual life, to counter the temptation to reduce God’s importance, to counter an accommodation to a comfortable and worldly life, to counter complaints – complaints! – dissatisfaction and self-pity, to counter a mentality of resignation and “we have always done it this way”: this is not God’s way".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Consecrated life is "praise that gives joy to the people of God, a prophetic vision that reveals what matters", it is "a simple and prophetic vision, where the Lord is held before our eyes and in our hands, and we do not need anything else ". This is consecrated life in the words of Pope Francis who celebrated the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple and the 23rd World Day of Consecrated Life in St. Peter's Basilica, with the religious men and women of every order and congregation.
Commenting on the Gospel passage (Lk 2: 22-40), Francis highlighted how "today’s Liturgy shows Jesus who goes out to meet his people. It is 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. Everything, therefore, meets as Jesus arrives."
"What does this mean for us? Above all, that we too are called to welcome Jesus who comes to meet us. To encounter him: the God of life is to be encountered every day of our lives; not now and then, but every day. To follow Jesus is not a decision taken once and for all, it is a daily choice. And we do not meet the Lord virtually, but directly, we encounter him in our lives, in the concreteness of life. Otherwise, Jesus becomes only a nice memory of the past. When we welcome him as the Lord of life, however, as the centre and the beating heart of everything, then he is alive and lives anew in us. And what happened in the temple also happens to us: around him everything meets, and life becomes harmonious. With Jesus we find again the courage to carry on and the strength to remain firm. The encounter with the Lord is the source. It is important then to return to the source: to retrace in our mind the decisive moments of encounter with him, to renew our first love, perhaps writing down our love story with the Lord. This would be good for our consecrated life, so that it does not become a time that passes by, but rather a time of encounter".
The Gospel, he said, shows that the encounter with the Lord "has blossomed in the believing people". "It is like this too in the consecrated life: it blossoms and flourishes in the Church; if it is isolated, it withers. It matures when the young and elderly walk together, when the young rediscover their roots and the elderly welcome those fruits".
"The Gospel also tells us that God’s encounter with his people has both a starting point and a destination point. It begins with the call in the temple and arrives at the vision in the temple. It is a call that is twofold. There is a first call “according to the law” (v. 22). It is the call of Joseph and Mary, who go to the temple to fulfil what the law prescribes. The text emphasizes this almost as a refrain, even four times (cf. vv. 22, 23, 24, 27). This is not something forced: Jesus’ parents are not constrained to go or merely to perform an external duty. They go in response to God’s call. Then there is a second call, according to the Spirit. It is the call of Simeon and Anna. This too is stressed with insistence: three times, in the case of Simeon, it refers to the Holy Spirit (cf. vv. 25, 26, 27) and it concludes with Anna the prophetess, who was inspired to give thanks to God (cf. v. 38). Two young people run to the temple, called by the law; two elderly people moved by the Spirit. What does this twofold call, by the law and by the Spirit, mean for our spiritual life and our consecrated life? It means that we are all called to a twofold 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. And so the encounter with the Lord is born: the Spirit reveals the Lord, but to welcome him we need to persevere every day. Even the greatest charisms, if lacking an ordered life, cannot bear fruit. On the other hand, even the best rules are not sufficient without the freshness of the Spirit: the law and the Spirit go together".
"The encounter which is born of the call culminates in vision. Simeon says: “My eyes have seen your salvation” (Lk 2:30). He sees the Child and he sees salvation". "God, as he, is enough for him. In God he finds the ultimate meaning of his life. This is the vision of consecrated life, a vision that is simple and prophetic in its simplicity, where we keep the Lord before our eyes and between our hands, and not to serve anything else. He is our life, he is our hope, he is our future. Consecrated life consists in this prophetic vision in the Church: it is a gaze that sees God present in the world, even if many do not notice him; it is a voice that says: “God is enough, the rest passes away”; it is praise that gushes forth in spite of everything".
"This then is the consecrated life: praise which gives joy to God’s people, prophetic vision that reveals what counts. When it is like this, then it flowers and becomes a summons for all of us to counter mediocrity: to counter a devaluation of our spiritual life, to counter the temptation to reduce God’s importance, to counter an accommodation to a comfortable and worldly life, to counter complaints – complaints! – dissatisfaction and self-pity, to counter a mentality of resignation and “we have always done it this way”: this is not God’s way. Consecrated life is not about survival, it is not about preparing ourselves for ars bene moriendi: this is the temptation of our days, in the face of declining vocations. No, it is not about survival, but new life. “But… there are only a few of us…” – it’s about new life. It is a living encounter with the Lord in his people. It is a call to the faithful obedience of daily life and to the unexpected surprises from the Spirit. It is a vision of what we need to embrace in order to experience joy: Jesus".