Pope Francis is calling those in the consecrated life to commit themselves to obedience, following the footsteps of Our Lady and Simeon, who carried the Christ Child in the Temple, but were actually led and guided by Him.
The Pope said this today in St. Peter’s Basilica as he celebrated Mass for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which is also the World Day of Consecrated Life.
The Holy Father has declared 2015 to be a Year of Consecrated Life.
Reflecting on the scene of the Presentation, the Holy Father said that Mary “carries [the Christ Child], but it is He who carries her in this way of God, who comes to us so that we can go to Him.”
“He has also opened a way for us, the consecrated. The Gospel emphasizes a good five times Mary’s and Joseph’s obedience to the Law of the Lord (Cf. Luke 2: 126.96.36.199.39),” the Pontiff continued.
Pope Francis said that anyone who follows Jesus places himself in the path of obedience, “as if imitating the ‘condescension of the Lord, who humbled himself and made the Father’s will his own, even to the annihilation and humiliation of himself.’”
To progress in religious life is to lower oneself in service, he explained, and this is made concrete in the Rule established by the founders’ charisms.
“The irreplaceable Rule for all is always the Gospel,” Francis said, “this abasement of Christ, but in his infinite creativity, the Holy Spirit expresses it also in different rules of consecrated life; however, they are all born of the following of Christ, of this way of abasing oneself to serve.”
The Holy Father said joy is the sign of the wisdom that comes from following this “law.”
“Yes, the joy of the Religious is the consequence of this way of abasement with Jesus,” he said.
Gift of wisdom
Anna and Simeon both represent wisdom in the story of the Presentation, the Pope said, a wisdom given them “through a long journey in the way of obedience to his law, obedience that, on one hand, humiliates and annihilates, but on the other hand, obedience that guards and guarantees hope, and so they are creative because they are full of the Holy Spirit.”
Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna are all models of obedience, the Pope indicated, and “the Lord transforms obedience into wisdom, with the action of his Holy Spirit.”
“This obedience and docility is not something theoretic, it is also under the regime of the Incarnation of the Word: docility and obedience to a founder, docility and obedience to a concrete Rule, docility and obedience to a Superior, docility and obedience to the Church. It is about concrete docility and obedience.”
Pope Francis said that it must be within this obedience that a Rule is “modernized” or adapted to changing times.
“The reinvigoration and renewal of consecrated life occur through great love of the Rule, and also through the capacity to contemplate and to listen to the elderly of the Congregation,” he stated. “Thus the ‘deposit,’ the charism of every Religious family is guarded by obedience and wisdom together.”
“Today, as Mary and Simeon, we want to take Jesus in our arms so that he encounters his people, and we will certainly succeed if we enter in the mystery where it is Jesus himself who leads us,” the Pope concluded. “We take Jesus but we let ourselves be guided.”
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