FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
XXV WORLD DAY OF CONSECRATED LIFE
HOLY MASS WITH THE MEMBERS OF INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE
AND SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
St. Peter's Basilica
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Simeon - writes Saint Luke - "was waiting for the consolation of Israel" ( Lk 2:25). Going up to the temple, while Mary and Joseph carry Jesus, she welcomes the Messiah in her arms. To recognize in the Child the light that has come to enlighten the people is an old man, who has patiently awaited the fulfillment of the Lord's promises. He waited patiently.
Simeone's patience. Let's look closely at this old man's patience. All his life he waited and exercised the patience of the heart. In prayer he learned that God does not come in extraordinary events, but does his work in the apparent monotony of our days, in the sometimes tiring rhythm of activities, in the little things that with tenacity and humility we carry out trying to do his will.
Walking patiently, Simeone did not let himself be worn out by the passage of time. He is a man now full of years, yet the flame of his heart is still alight; in his long life he will have at times been hurt, disappointed, yet he has not lost hope; with patience, he keeps the promise - keep the promise -, without letting oneself be consumed by the bitterness for the past or by that resigned melancholy that emerges when one reaches the twilight of life. The hope of waiting in him was translated into the daily patience of those who, despite everything, remained vigilant, until, finally, "his eyes saw salvation" (cf.Lk 2.30).
And I ask myself: where did Simeone learn this patience? He received it from the prayer and life of his people, who in the Lord always recognized the "merciful and compassionate God, slow to anger and rich in grace and fidelity" ( Ex 34,6); Father recognized that even before the rejection and infidelity does not get tired, indeed "is patient for many years" (see Ne 9:30), as Nehemiah says, to give every time the possibility of conversion.
Simeon's patience, therefore, is a mirror of God's patience . From the prayer and history of his people, Simeon learned that God is patient. With his patience - affirms Saint Paul - he "pushes us to conversion" ( Rom 2 : 4). I like to remember Romano Guardini, who said: patience is a way in which God responds to our weakness, to give us time to change ( cf.Glaubenserkenntnis, Würzburg 1949, 28). And above all the Messiah, Jesus, whom Simeon holds in his arms, reveals to us the patience of God, the Father who shows us mercy and calls us until the last hour, who does not require perfection but the impulse of the heart, which opens new possibility where everything seems lost, which tries to break through us even when our heart is closed, which lets the good grain grow without tearing the weeds. This is the reason for our hope: God awaits us without ever getting tired. God awaits us without ever getting tired. And this is the reason for our hope. When we go away he comes to look for us, when we fall to the ground he raises us up, when we return to him after being lost he awaits us with open arms. His love is not measured on the scale of our human calculations, but it always gives us the courage to start over. It teaches us resilience, the courage to start over. Always, every day. After falls, always, start over. He is patient.
And let's look at our patience. Let us look to the patience of God and that of Simeon for our consecrated life. And we ask ourselves: what is patience? Certainly, it is not the simple tolerance of difficulties or a fatalistic endurance of adversity. Patience is not a sign of weakness: it is the fortitude that makes us capable of "carrying the burden", of bearing : bearing the weight of personal and community problems, makes us welcome the diversity of the other, makes us persevere well even when everything seems useless, it keeps us going even when boredom and sloth assail us.
I would like to indicate three "places" where patience is realized.
The first is our personal life. One day we responded to the call of the Lord and, with enthusiasm and generosity, we offered ourselves to Him. Along the way, along with the consolations, we also received disappointments and frustrations. At times, the enthusiasm of our work does not match the desired result, our sowing does not seem to produce adequate fruits, the fervor of prayer fades and we are not always immunized against spiritual aridity. It can happen, in our life as consecrated persons, that hope is worn out because of disappointed expectations. We must have patience with ourselves and confidently await God's times and ways: He is faithful to his promises. This is the foundation stone: He is true to his promises. Remembering this allows us to rethink our paths, to reinvigorate our dreams, without giving in to inner sadness and mistrust. Brothers and sisters, the interior sadness in us consecrated is a worm, a worm that eats us from within. Flee from inner sadness!
Second place where patience becomes concrete: community life. Human relationships, especially when it comes to sharing a life plan and an apostolic activity, are not always peaceful, we all know this. Sometimes conflicts arise and an immediate solution cannot be demanded, nor must one hastily judge the person or the situation: one must know how to distance himself, try not to lose peace, wait for the best time to clarify oneself in charity and truth. . Don't be confused by storms. In the reading of the breviary there is a good passage - for tomorrow - a beautiful passage by Diadoco di Fotice on spiritual discernment, and it says this: "When the sea is rough you do not see the fish, but when the sea is calm you can see ". We will never be able to make a good discernment, see the truth, if our heart is agitated and impatient. Never. In our communities this mutual patience is needed: to bear, that is, to bear the life of the brother or sister on one's shoulders, even his weaknesses and defects. All. Let us remember this: the Lord does not call us to be soloists - there are so many in the Church, we know -, no, he does not call us to be soloists, but to be part of a choir, which sometimes clashes, but must always try to sing together.
Finally, third "place", patience towards the world. Simeon and Anna cultivate in their hearts the hope announced by the prophets, even if it is slow to come true and slowly grows inside the infidelities and ruins of the world. They do not sing the lament for things that are wrong, but patiently await the light in the darkness of history. Wait for the light in the darkness of history. Wait for the light in the darkness of your community. We need this patience, in order not to remain prisoners of complaint. Some are masters of complaints, they are doctors of complaints, they are very good at complaining! No, complaints imprison us: "the world no longer listens to us" - so many times we hear this -, "we no longer have vocations, we have to close the shack", "we live in difficult times" - "ah, don't tell me! . ". Thus begins the duet of complaints. Sometimes it happens that to the patience with which God works the soil of history, and also works the soil of our heart, we oppose the impatience of those who judge everything at once: now or never, now, now, now. And so we lose that virtue, the "small" but the most beautiful: hope. I have seen many consecrated men and women who lose hope. Simply out of impatience.
Patience helps us to look at ourselves, our communities and the world with mercy. We can ask ourselves: do we welcome the patience of the Spirit into our life? In our communities, do we carry each other on our shoulders and show the joy of fraternal life? And to the world, do we carry out our service with patience or do we judge harshly? These are challenges for our consecrated life: we cannot stand still in nostalgia for the past or limit ourselves to repeating the things of always, nor in the complaints of every day. We need the courageous patience to walk, to explore new paths, to seek what the Holy Spirit suggests to us. And this is done with humility, with simplicity, without great propaganda, without great publicity.
Let us contemplate the patience of God and implore the trusting patience of Simeon and also of Anna, so that our eyes too can see the light of salvation and bring it to the whole world, as these two old men brought it in praise.
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Image Screen Shot Youtube - Vatican Medie