On the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, the Church is celebrating a mystery of Christ’s life linked to the precept of Mosaic Law which prescribed that 40 days after the birth of their first-born child parents should go to the Temple of Jerusalem to consecrate the infant to the Lord (cf. Ex 13:1-2, 11-16). Mary and Joseph fulfilled this rite, offering to comply with the law a couple of turtle doves or pigeons.
This Gospel scene reveals the mystery of Jesus, the One consecrated by the Father, come into the world to carry out His will faithfully. Simeon points to Jesus as "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Lk 2:32) and by a prophetic word foretells the supreme offering of Jesus to the Father and His final victory (Lk 2:32-35).
In this way the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is an eloquent icon of the total offering of one’s life for all those who are called to show forth in the Church and in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels, the characteristic features of Jesus—the chaste, poor and obedient one.
St. John Paul II proclaimed February 2nd, as “the World Day of Consecrated Life.” The sacrifice of the Son of God symbolized by his presentation in the Temple is the model for every man and woman who consecrate their life totally to the Lord. The purpose of this Day is threefold: the first, to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life; the second, to promote knowledge and appreciation of it among the whole People of God and the last, to invite all those who have dedicated their lives totally to the cause of the Gospel to celebrate the marvels that the Lord has worked in them.
Consecrated life is a stable form of Christian living by those faithful who feel called to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They follow Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to His honor, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory.
Consecrated people are called in a special way to be witnesses of God’s mercy in which human beings find their salvation. Actually, the closer we are to God, the more helpful we are to others. Consecrated people experience God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness not only for themselves but also for their brothers and sisters. They are called to carry in their hearts and prayers the anxieties and expectations of human beings, especially those who are far from God.
Venerable Mother Alphonse Marie, knowing the graces and difficulties of Religious Life, teaches her followers:
When we consider the magnitude of the grace given us in our religious calling we have to use all the means that help us to become holy. My beloved children, remove from your hearts everything that might offend your Divine Bridegroom. Your heart belongs completely and entirely to God. Would it not be ingratitude, were we to cling to anything but Him, Who because of His perfection deserves our whole heart? Did He not show you a preferential love in drawing you out of the world in order to protect you from the numerous dangers to which one is exposed in the world.
On my part, my beloved children, I feel so penetrated with gratitude for this inestimable goodness, that I can scarcely express myself. Religious are pilgrims traveling heavenward. They pass through the difficult paths of this valley of tears, but their gaze is directed toward Him, Who, at the same time, enlightens and directs them and fills their hearts with indescribable delights.
Let us listen to the inner voice calling us on the path of perfection and pray for those who are looking for their life path of vocation and those who already answer the inner calling of God.