Pope Francis on February 2, 2019, reminded the faithful that following Jesus is a daily choice. And the call to faith comes from both the law and the Spirit.
His comments came during his homily at Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also the 23rd World Day for Consecrated Life.
The Holy Father stressed that Jesus goes out to meet people. He meets them in the context of “encounter” with others. For example, at the presentation in the temple, Mary and Joseph encounter Simeon and Anna.
“The encounter which is born of the call culminates in vision,” Francis explained. “Simeon says: ‘My eyes have seen your salvation’ (Lk 2:30).
In fact, the Pope pointed out. Simeon doesn’t see the Messiah working miracles. He just sees a small child, brought to the temple by a humble couple.
“What does this mean for us?” the Pope asked. “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. Otherwise, Jesus becomes only a nice memory of the past. When we welcome him as the Lord of life, however, as the center and the beating heart of everything, then he is alive and lives anew in us.”
Pope Francis went on to explain that the faithful experience a “twofold” calling. First, the law gives order to life. And Francis suggested that “even the greatest charisms, if lacking an ordered life, cannot bear fruit.”
But the second part of the twofold call also is essential; the Spirit brings “freshness” and “does new things in our lives.”
The Holy Father used the miracle at the wedding in Cana to explain how the two calls go together. First, Mary tells the stewards to draw the water. The follow the law out of obedience. This prepares the way for the Spirit to act in the “surprise” of turning the water into wine. Before the miracle can occur there is the concrete act of obedience.
“This then is the consecrated life: praise which gives joy to God’s people, a prophetic vision that reveals what counts,” Francis concluded. “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, dissatisfaction and self-pity, to counter a mentality of resignation and ‘we have always done it this way’. Consecrated life is not about survival, but 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.”