Pope Francis presides over Mass on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord on 2 February, which also marks the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life.
In his homily on Wednesday evening, Pope Francis took his cue from the feast of the Presentation of the Lord which is celebrated on 2 February.
The Pope recalled two elderly people, Simeon and Anna who are waiting in the Temple, “the fulfilment of the promise that God made to his people: the coming of the Messiah.”
Pope Francis noted that Simeon is moved by the Spirit; “then he sees salvation in the Child Jesus and finally he takes him into his arms.”
What moves us?
The Pope then considered these three actions by looking firstly at what moves us?
He explained that like Simeon, the Holy Spirit “enables us to discern God’s presence and activity not in great things, in outward appearances or shows of force, but in littleness and vulnerability.”
Pope Francis then posed the question; “who mostly moves us? Is it the Holy Spirit, or the spirit of this world?”
On this World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, the Pope was joined in Saint Peter’s Basilica by members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and he remarked that “this is a question that everyone, consecrated persons in particular, needs to ask.”
He went on to say, “the Spirit moves us to see God in the littleness and vulnerability of a baby, yet we at times risk seeing our consecration only in terms of results, goals and success: we look for influence, for visibility, for numbers.”
The Spirit, commented the Pope, “on the other hand, asks for none of this. He wants us to cultivate daily fidelity and to be attentive to the little things entrusted to our care.”
Pope Francis stressed that it was important for consecrated persons to examine their interior motivations and discern their spiritual movements, “so that the renewal of consecrated life may come about, first and foremost, from there.”
What do our eyes see?
The Pope then turned his attention to the second question, What do our eyes see? He noted that God looks upon us with a “compassionate gaze”, and gives us “new eyes to look at ourselves and at our world.” It is a gaze, he said, “that does not stop at appearances, but can enter into the very cracks of our weaknesses and failures, in order to discern God’s presence even there.”
In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope noted that it would do people good “to visit our elderly religious brothers and sisters, to look at them, to talk, to ask, to hear what they think. I think it will be good medicine.”
The Lord, underlined Pope Francis, “never fails to give us signs that invite us to cultivate a renewed vision of consecrated life.”
“Let us open our eyes: the Spirit is inviting us amid our crises, decreasing numbers and diminishing forces, to renew our lives and our communities,” he said.
During his Homily, the Pope also warned against the temptation “to go backwards, for security, for fear, to preserve the faith, to preserve the founding charism.”
“Neither Simeon nor Anna were rigid,” he said. “They were free and had the joy of feasting.”
Embracing the Lord
Finally, the Pope focused on the third question: what do we take into our own arms?
“Sometimes we risk losing our bearings, getting caught up in a thousand different things, obsessing about minor issues or plunging into new projects,” yet, Pope Francis said, “the heart of everything is Christ, embracing him as the Lord of our lives.”
The Pope warned, “if consecrated men and women lack words that bless God and other people, if they lack joy, if their enthusiasm fails, if their fraternal life is only a chore, it is not the fault of someone or something else. It is because our arms no longer embrace Jesus.”
He continued by saying that when that happens, “our hearts fall prey to bitterness, to complaining about things that do not go like clockwork, to rigidity and inflexibility, to the illusion of our own superiority.”
A renewed vision
In conclusion, Pope Francis invited all consecrated people to “renew our consecration,” asking what it is that “‘moves’ our hearts and actions, what renewed vision we are being called to cultivate, and above all else, let us take Jesus into our arms,” just like Simeon and Anna did.
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.