Vatican City, Feb 2, 2014 / 10:34 am
Pope Francis' Sunday homily reflected on the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, noting how the event shows both young and old people joyous in their faithfulness to God.
The Pope said the Presentation is "a meeting between the young full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord and the elderly full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit."
"It is a singular meeting between observance and prophecy," he said Feb. 2.
The Presentation, recounted in the Gospel of Luke, is the story of the infant Jesus and his parents meeting the elderly Simeon and Anna in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Pope Francis noted that Luke's gospel repeats four times that Mary and Joseph "wanted to do that which was prescribed by the Law of the Lord," in bringing their child to be dedicated to God.
"The parents of Jesus had the joy of observing the precepts of God, yes, the joy of walking in the Law of the Lord... It's not an external fact, it's not to feel alright, no! It's a strong, profound desire, full of joy," he explained.
The elderly Simeon and Anna "were guided by the Holy Spirit." Simeon was a "just and pious man who awaited the consolation of Israel" while Anna was a "prophetess" who was "inspired by God."
"In other words," said Pope Francis, "these two elderly people are full of life! They are full of life because they are animated by the Holy Spirit, docile to his actions, sensitive to his call."
This meeting points to a deeper reality in the Church, he continued.
"If we reflect carefully, the observance of the law is animated by the same Spirit, and prophecy moves us along the path drawn by the Law. Who more than Mary is full of the Holy Spirit? Who more than she is docile to his actions?"
He addressed a congregation that filled St. Peter's Basilica with religious and clergy gathered to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation. In 1997 John Paul II dedicated the feast day as the World Day for Consecrated Life.
Pope Francis said that the commitment to religious life should be seen as a "meeting with Christ." It is Jesus Christ who "comes to us, brought by Mary and Joseph, and we who go towards him, guided by the Holy Spirit. But He is at the center."
"He moves everything, he draws us to the Temple, to the Church, where we can meet him, know him, welcome him, embrace him."
The Pope explained that this encounter can take place in organizations of vowed religious.
"Jesus comes to meet us in the Church through the foundational charism of an institute: it's beautiful to think this about our vocations!" exclaimed Pope Francis to the many men and women religious in the congregation.
"And also in the consecrated life, one lives the meeting between youth and the elderly, between observance and prophecy," he continued. "Let us not see them as two opposing realities!"
Observance of the law and prophecy must work together, he urged. "A sign of this is joy, the joy of observance, of journeying in the rule of life, and the joy of being guided by the Spirit, never rigid, never closed, always open to the voice of God who speaks, who opens, who leads."
Pope Francis then encouraged the elderly to share their wisdom with young people, and young people to "receive this patrimony of experience and wisdom," in order to "carry it forward," not "to keep it in a museum" but rather "for the good of the respective religious families of the whole Church."
At the close of Mass, Pope Francis stopped for a moment of prayer in front of a statue of Mary holding the infant Jesus before processing out of St. Peter's Basilica.
The statue of the baby Jesus from the Vatican's Nativity scene, which will be put away today, was also brought to the pontiff for a final act of veneration.