“Everything started in an encounter with the Lord,” Pope Francis said on February 2, 2018. “Our journey of consecration was born of an encounter and a call.”
He issued this reminder in his homily for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the 22nd World Day of the Consecrated Life. The Mass was celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica with members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
He continued on the theme of “encounter”: “We need to keep this in mind. And if we remember aright, we will realize that in that encounter we were not alone with Jesus; there was also the people of God, the Church, young and old, just as in today’s Gospel.”
The Holy Father recounted the presentation of Jesus, in the temple, pointing out that Mary and Joseph never speak, but simply follow the law. “The Gospel tells us this four times.”
The Pope painted the ironic scene, in which the elderly couple, Simeon and Anna are the ones who speak. The Holy Father suggests it appears the roles are reversed.
“It seems it should be the other way around,” Francis said. “Generally, it is the young who speak enthusiastically about the future, while the elderly protect the past. In the Gospel, the very opposite occurs, because when we meet one another in the Lord, God’s surprises immediately follow.”
The Holy Father explained that “the old receive from the young, while the young draw upon the old. In the Temple, Mary and Joseph find the roots of their people”. And the young couple finds themselves in the encounter with the elderly couple.
“This is important because God’s promise does not come to fulfillment merely in individuals, once for all, but within a community and throughout history,” the Pope continued, “…for faith is not something learned from a book, but the art of living with God learned from the experience of those who have gone before us.”
Again stressing the encounter with Christ, the Pope urged the consecrated present in the mass to remember “that we can never renew our encounter with the Lord without others; we can never leave others behind, never pass over generations, but must accompany one another daily, keeping the Lord always at the center.”
An encounter among the generations is vital, according to the Pope, especially in a world where the only things always open seem to be shopping malls and internet connections. He noted the importance of the encounter between young and old in a religious institute.
“For if the young are called to open new doors, the elderly have the keys. An institute remains youthful by going back to its roots, by listening to its older members. There is no future without this encounter between the old and the young. There is no growth without roots and no flowering without new buds. There is never prophecy without memory, or memory without prophecy. And constant encounter.”