Bookmark and Share

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord 2003

2 February 2003 - 7th World Day for Consecrated Life

John Paul II's Homily at Vigil Mass for Religious Men & Women
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "When the time came for their purification ... they brought the child up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord" (Lk 2,22). The Infant Jesus entered the temple of Jerusalem in the arms of his Virgin Mother.

"Born of woman, born under the law" (Gal 4,4), he submitted to the destiny of every first-born male child of his people: according to the Law of the Lord he had to be "ransomed" with a sacrifice, 40 days after his birth (cf. Ex 13,2.12; Lv 12,1-8).

The newborn Child, in every way like all others outwardly, does not pass unnoticed. The Holy Spirit opens the eyes of faith of the elderly Simeon who comes near, and, taking the Child in his arms, recognizes in him the Messiah and praises God (cf. Lk 2,25-32). This Child, he prophesies, will be "a light for the Gentiles, the glory of Israel" (cf. v. 32), but also a sign of contradiction (cf. v. 34) because according to the Scriptures he will realize the judgement of God. Moreover, the devout old man predicts to the astonished Mother that this will happen through a suffering in which she too will be a sharer (cf. v. 35).

2. Forty days after Christmas, the Church celebrates this stirring joyful mystery that, in a certain way, anticipates both the sorrow of Good Friday and the joy of Easter. In the Eastern Tradition this day is called the "Feast of the Meeting", because in the sacred space of the Temple of Jerusalem, the meeting takes place between God's graciousness and the expectation of the chosen people.

All this acquires in Christ an eschatological meaning and value: he is the Bridegroom who comes to accomplish the nuptial covenant with Israel. Many are called, but how many are effectively ready to receive him, with watchful minds and hearts (cf. Mt 22,14)? In today's liturgy we contemplate Mary, the model of those who wait and open their hearts in docility to the meeting with Lord.

3. In this light, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple is a very suitable day for the the appreciative praise of consecrated persons, and for some years the Day of Consecrated Life has rightly been observed on this day. The picture of Mary who in the temple offers the Son to God, speaks eloquently to the hearts of the men and women who have made a total offering of themselves to the Lord through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for the Kingdom of Heaven.

The theme of spiritual sacrifice is fused with that of light, introduced by Simeon's words. The Virgin appears as a candlestick bearing Christ, the "Light of the world". With Mary, thousands of men and women religious and consecrated lay people throughout the world gather to renew their consecration, holding lighted candles, the expression of their life, burning with faith and love.

4. Here too, in St Peter's Basilica this evening, we offer a solemn thanksgiving to God for the gift of the consecrated life in the Diocese of Rome and in the universal Church. I warmly greet Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apsotolic Life, and his collaborators. I affectionately greet all of you, brothers and sisters, men and women religious and consecrated lay people! With your large, devout and joyful presence, you impress upon the liturgical assembly the face of the Church-Bride, like Mary, doing her utmost to be in total conformity with the Divine Word.

High up in their niches along the walls of this basilica, the founders and foundresses of many of your institutes watch over you. They recall the mystery of the Communion of Saints through which, in the pilgrim Church, from age to age, many renew the choice of following Christ with a special consecration in accord with the many charisms kindled by the Spirit. At the same time, those venerable figures are an invitation to turn our gaze to the heavenly homeland where, in the gathering of saints, so many consecrated souls praise with full beatitude the Triune God whom they loved and served on earth with a free and undivided heart.

5. Poverty, chastity and obedience are distintive features of the redeemed person, inwardly set free from the slavery of egotism. Free to love, free to serve: this is the way the men and women are who renounce themselves for the Kingdom of Heaven. Following in the footsteps of the crucified and risen Christ, they live this freedom as solidarity, taking on the spiritual and material burdens of their brothers and sisters.

This is the multiform "service of charity" that is exercised in the cloister, in hospitals, parishes and schools, among the poor and immigrants, in the new meeting places of the mission. In thousands of ways consecrated life is a manifestation of God's love in the world (cf. Apostolic Exhortation, Vita consecrata, chapter III).

With grateful hearts, let us praise God today for each of them. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may the Lord increasingly enrich his Church with this great gift. To the praise and glory of his Name and for the spread of his Kingdom. Amen!"

JPII - Homily at Vigil Mass, Saturday 1 February 2003 - © Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Papa Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Angelus
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today Italy observes a Pro-Life Day that has as its theme: "You Cannot Trade with Life". This principle, although admitted theoretically, unfortunately is not always respected. There are situations in which the human person becomes an instrument for economic, political and scientific interests, especially when he is weak and does not have the strength to defend himself.

Moreover, a certain commercial logic, linked with modern technology, can at times take advantage of human desires that are good in themselves, such as that of becoming mother or father, to the point of wanting a child "at any cost". In reality, human life can never become an "object": from conception until natural death, the human being is the subject of inviolable rights, which freedom must learn to respect. For this reason, in these complicated matters, it is indispensable that states adopt organic and clear laws, founded on solid ethical bases, to safeguard the inestimable good of human life.

2. For ten years now, the Pro-Life Day continues in the diocese of Rome through a special week dedicated to Life and the Family. Also, next June the diocesan ecclesial meeting will be dedicated to this topic. I reaffirm for the families of Rome the message that was repeated at the World Meeting that ended a short time ago in Manila. Dear Christian families, you are "good news" for our city. Sustained by the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony, confront in a united way the various situations of life and contribute to keeping the social fabric sound.

3. Today, on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, we entrust to Mary all those dedicated to the defence of life and the families who are the natural "nest" of life. May Our Lady watch over those who are occupied with the service of the sick, for whom on 11 February we observe the World Day of the Sick. Finally, may the Blessed Virgin Mary protect in a special way the men and women religious and consecrated laity who observe today the "Day of Consecrated Life".

After the Angelus:

The sad news of the tragic explosion of the United States space shuttle "Columbia" on its re-entry into the atmosphere has caused great distress to everyone. I invite all to pray for the victims of the accident who died while accomplishing an international scientific mission. At this time of severe trial, I am spiritually close to the relatives to whom I offer the assurance of my prayer.

Once again, my thoughts turn to the Ivory Coast, tried by a serious crisis that affects the people. Let us pray that, beyond the divisions and counter-claims, the efforts of those who have at heart the unity of the country and respect for legality may prevail. May the Catholic faithful led by their Pastors know how to act so that dialogue and respect for persons and their property may be practiced and promoted by all.

May Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, intercede for reconciliation and concern among the people of that beloved nation.

Yesterday, the first of February, the Lunar New Year was observed by many millions of persons, especially the Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans, who live this holiday in the intimacy of their family. To them I repeat the greetings that I formulated in the Message for the recent World Day of Peace: may the new year be a time of peace, founded on the "four basic requirements of the human spirit: truth, justice, love and freedom". May my affectionate greetings reach the heart of each of them. My prayer accompanies them every day.

Sehr herzlich begrüße ich die Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache, besonders die „Floridsdorfer Chorvereinigung Harmonie 1865" aus Wien. Maria, die Mutter Jesu, zeigt uns den Weg der Heiligkeit: Ihr Leben steht ganz unter dem Willen Gottes. Ihre Fürbitte helfe uns, als Jünger Christi Licht und Frieden in die Welt zu bringen. Der Herr segne euch!

Doy mi bienvenida a los peregrinos de lengua española presentes en esta oración del Ángelus, especialmente a los de las diócesis españolas de Jerez de la Frontera y Cádiz-Ceuta. ¡Qué Jesucristo, revelado en la liturgia de hoy como luz de las naciones, aliente vuestro camino!

Pozdrawiam kaplanów archidiecezji krakowskiej oraz pielgrzymów indywidualnych. Szczesc Boze wszystkim. Niech Bóg blogoslawi w nowym roku.

Saluto i pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare i gruppi parrocchiali provenienti da Troina, Caltagirone e Villa San Giovanni. Possa la sosta presso la tomba di Pietro rafforzare la fede e la testimonianza evangelica.

A tutti auguro una buona domenica."

JPII - Angelus, Sunday 2 February 2003 - © Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana