In 1997, St. John Paul II chose the 2nd February, feast of the Presentation of the Child Jeus in the Temple as the World Day of Consecrated Life. In this way, the Holy Father wanted to create an opportunity for the whole Church to reflect more deeply on the gift of consecrated life being consecrated to God.
Referring to the gospel of the Presentation in the Temple I would like to highlight the sacrifice of the two pigeons, which Mary and Joseph made in the Temple to God for their firstborn Son. This sacrifice is very significant because the second of these pigeons was offered as a burnt offering to the Lord - that is, a sacrifice of praise i.e. a sacrifice to God which is to be only for His glory - offered in absolute freedom, wanting nothing in return, in love which is selfless. This is the second pigeon but the first pigeon is a sin offering. Before we can glorify God in selflessness, before we stand before God in this attitude we must first acknowledge our sinfulness and ask his forgiveness. But for what sins did Mary and Joseph sacrifice? Not for their own! but for mine and for yours and for the sins of the whole of humankind.
In the letter to the Hebrews we read: “Therefore he i.e. Jesus had to be made like his brothers in all respects, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest before God, to atone for the sins of the people. For in what he himself suffered when he was under trial, in this he can come to the aid of those who are under trial.” (2.17-18)
The meaning of our consecrated life is not what we do but who we are. Yes, we can learn how to do many things, but it does not make us a consecrated person. We can every day spend some time to give soup to poor people but it is not who we are. Consecration does not separate us from people. We become one among many who need mercy. The sins of humankind are my problem. I do not judge the other, I carry humankind in my heart in my prayer and in my total sacrifice of my life to God. The consecrated way of life demands a radical way of being with God and with people - To live for the glory of God and the salvation of the souls!
Consecrated life is a special way of being Christian. It brings us out from 'isolated mysticism and unbridled activism' as Pope Francis notes.
Consecrated persons live on earth, but their gaze is directed to heaven. “Do not forget that you, in a very special way, can and must say that you not only belong to Christ but that "you have become Christ!" (St. John Paul II)
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