On the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Day of Consecrated Life, the Holy Father presided at second Vespers in the Vatican Basilica.
“The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple”, he said, “is an eloquent symbol of complete donation of life, for all those men and women who are called to reproduce, in the Church and the world, via the evangelical counsels, the characteristic features of Jesus: chastity, poverty and obedience. It is for this reason that today’s feast was chosen by the Venerable John Paul II to celebrate the annual Day of Consecrated Life”.
Benedict XVI then went on to propose three themes for reflection on this feast day: “Firstly”, he said, the evangelical image of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple contains the fundamental symbol of light; the light which, irradiating from Christ, shone on Mary and Joseph, on Simeon and Anna and, through them, on everyone. The Church Fathers associated this shining light with the spiritual journey. Consecrated life is an expression of this journey, especially in … love for divine beauty, reflection of the goodness of God”.
“Secondly”, he continued, “the evangelical image is an expression of prophecy, gift of the Holy Spirit. Simeon and Anna, contemplating the Baby Jesus, foresee His destiny of death and resurrection for the salvation of all mankind, and they announce this mystery as universal salvation. Consecrated life, with its dual aspect of contemplation and activity, is called to offer such prophetic witness. Consecrated men and women are in fact given the chance to express primacy of God and passion for the Gospel, practiced in life and announced to the poor and to the weakest of the earth”.
Finally, the Presentation also “expresses the wisdom of Simeon and Anna, the wisdom of a life totally dedicated to seeking the face of God, His signs and His will; a life dedicated to listening to and announcing His Word”.
The Pope then went on to encourage consecrated men and women “to listen assiduously to the Word, because all of life’s wisdom arises from the Word of the Lord. … The Holy Spirit, in Whom the Bible was written, is the same Spirit Who illumines the Word of God with new light for the founders and foundresses. Every charism and every rule springs from it and seeks to be an expression of it, thus opening up new pathways of Christian living marked by the radicalism of the Gospel.
“The situation in which we live today, especially in the more developed societies, is often marked by a radical plurality, by a progressive marginalisation of religion from the public sphere, by a relativism which extends to fundamental values”, the Holy Father added. “This means that our Christian witness must always be luminous and coherent and our educational efforts attentive and generous”. And he concluded by exhorting the religious: “With the wisdom of your lives and faith in the infinite possibilities of true education, guide the minds and hearts of the men and women of our time towards ‘the good life in the Gospel'”.