Pope Francis has reminded religious that they are not to be like ‘museum pieces,’ untouched and stagnant, but are to dirty hands and step out of themselves, like Jesus did.
He made this point tonight during the Mass he celebrated for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the conclusion of the Year of Consecrated Life in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Speaking to the religious gathered in the Basilica, he stressed, that when we encounter the Lord, especially in the vocation, we are renewed, and no longer who we were in the past.
Can’t Remain Closed In on Ourselves
“He is the novelty that makes all things new. One who lives this encounter becomes a witness and makes possible the encounter for others; and makes him also a promoter of the culture of encounter, avoiding self-reference that makes us remain closed in ourselves.”
The Pontiff recalled that the passage of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus Himself, in order to encounter us, did not hesitate to share our human condition.
In taking on our nature, he said, “Jesus did not save us “from outside,” He did not remain outside our drama, but willed to share our life.”
Given this, Pope Francis said, “Consecrated men and women are called to be a concrete and prophetic sign of God’s closeness, of the sharing of the condition of fragility, of sin and of wounds of the man of our time.”
All consecrated, he noted, are to be in a permanent state of mission.
Not Museum Pieces, But to ‘Dirty Hands’
Joseph and Mary kept the wonder of this meeting full of light and hope for all peoples. And we also, as Christians and as consecrated persons, are custodians of this wonder. A wonder that calls to be always renewed; woe for habit in the spiritual life; woe to crystalizing our charisms in an abstract doctrine.”
“The Founders’ charisms — as I have said at other times — are not to be sealed in a bottle, they are not museum pieces.”
Our Founders, he highlighted, were moved by the Spirit and “were not afraid to soil their hands in daily life, with the people’s problems, going with courage to the geographic and existential fringes.”
Nor did they not stop “in face of obstacles and the incomprehension of others, because they kept in their heart the wonder of the encounter with Christ,” he said.
They always had in their hearts, the Holy Father explained, “a healthy restlessness for the Lord, a consuming desire to take Him to others, as Mary and Joseph did in the Temple.”
Today, the Holy Father urged, we too are called to make prophetic and courageous choices.
Surprise After Mass
Following the Mass, the Pope stepped outside the program by exiting the Basilica and telling all those religious gathered in St. Peter’s Square to keep up their work and keep praying.
He encouraged them to continue their good work, never forget how motivated and joyful they felt when they were first called.
The Holy Father told them if they do this, ‘They will age well, like good wine.’
On ZENIT’s Web page: