1. "He had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so
that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest" (Heb
These words from the Letter to the Hebrews express well the
message of today's Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the
Temple. They offer us the key to its interpretation, so to
speak, putting it in the perspective of the Paschal Mystery.
The event we are celebrating today takes us back to what Mary
and Joseph did when, 40 days after his birth, they presented
Jesus to God as their firstborn son, complying with the law of
Their offering was later to find complete and perfect fulfilment
in the mystery of the passion, death and Resurrection of the
Lord. Only then would he fulfil his mission as the "merciful and
faithful High Priest", sharing in our human destiny to the very
At the presentation in the Temple, Mary, the faithful Virgin who
takes part with him in the eternal plan of salvation, was with
him as she was on Calvary.
2. Today's liturgy opens with the blessing of the candles and
the procession to the altar to meet Christ and to recognize him
"in the breaking of the bread" until he comes again in glory.
The Church celebrates the Day of Consecrated Life in this
setting of light, faith and hope. All those who have offered
their life to Christ for ever for the coming of the Kingdom of
God are invited to renew their "yes" to the special vocation
they have received. The entire Ecclesial Community, however,
also rediscovers the riches of the prophetic witness of
consecrated life in the variety of its charisms and apostolic
3. With sentiments of praise and gratitude to the Lord for this
great gift, I would like first of all to greet Cardinal Eduardo
Martínez Somalo, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of
Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, who is
presiding at today's Celebration. With him, I extend my cordial
good wishes to all who are participating in this evocative
My affectionate greeting goes especially to you, dear Men and
Women Religious and Members of Secular Institutes, as well as to
all the witnesses faithful to the values of consecrated life in
every region of the world.
Christ is calling you to conform ever more closely to him, who
out of love made himself obedient, poor and chaste. Continue to
dedicate yourselves passionately to proclaiming and promoting
his Kingdom. This is your mission, as necessary today as it was
in the past!
4. Dear Men and Women Religious, what a favourable opportunity
you are afforded on this day dedicated to you, to reaffirm your
fidelity to God with the enthusiasm and generosity of the moment
when you first pronounced your vows! Repeat your "yes" to the
God of Love every day with joy and conviction. In the
recollection of the cloistered monastery or beside the poor and
marginalized, among young people or within the structures of the
Church, in the various apostolic activities or in mission lands,
God wants you to be faithful to his love and dedicated without
reserve to the good of your brothers and sisters.
This is the precious contribution which you can make to the
Church, so that the Gospel of hope may reach the men and women
of our time.
5. Let us contemplate the Virgin while she offers her Son in the
Temple of Jerusalem. She who unconditionally accepted God's will
at the moment of the Annunciation in a certain way is repeating
her words: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be
done to me according to your word" (Lk 1: 38). This attitude of
docile adherence to the divine designs was to mark her entire
Thus, Our Lady is the first and most exalted model for every
consecrated person. Dear brothers and sisters, let yourselves be
guided by her. Turn to her for help with humble trust,
especially in moments of trial.
And you, Mary, watch over these children of yours, lead them to
Christ, "the Glory of Israel, the Light of the peoples". Virgo
Virginum, Mater Salvatoris, ora pro nobis!
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