A word that leaps from today’s scripture readings is simplicity. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus was in solidarity with the simple-hearted – those who are not distracted by surrounding chaos but make themselves available to what God is asking of them, no matter what the cost. The simple-hearted people have the special gift of seeing the goodness in other people and not being wearied by whom and what the world considers important.
Jesus enters His Temple today for the first time and encounters Anna and Simeon, both of whom have little importance to the powerful people but serve as wonderful role models for us. Anna witnesses to us the need for prayer. Indeed, a prayer is always on her lips. Simeon immediately recognizes Jesus and His parents. Simeon’s words recorded in the Gospel at seeing the Infant Jesus are prayed every evening in the Liturgy of the Hours. Translated as “Now, Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace… My eyes have seen your salvation,” can you imagine his emotions when actually holding Jesus, whom he had been waiting for his whole life? An ordinary day became extraordinary through a personal encounter with the Lord.
On February 2 the Church also celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, commemorating the gift of religious life to the Church. In his homily from last year’s celebration, Pope Francis commented: “This then is the consecrated life: praise which gives joy to God’s people, prophetic vision that reveals what counts. Consecrated life is not about survival, it is not about preparing ourselves for ars bene moriendi: this is the temptation of our days, in the face of declining vocations. No, it is not about survival, but new life. “But… there are only a few of us…” – it’s about new life. It is a living encounter with the Lord in his people. It is a call to the faithful obedience of daily life and to the unexpected surprises from the Spirit. It is a vision of what we need to embrace in order to experience joy: Jesus!”
Today, perhaps you could say a prayer for a religious sister or brother who has touched your life? We would be grateful!
Sister Marcella Louise Wallowicz, CSFN