Mass on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and XXV World Day of Consecrated Life

Simeon – writes Saint Luke – “awaited the consolation of Israel” (Lk 2:25). Going up to the temple, while Mary and Joseph were carrying Jesus, he welcomed the Messiah in his arms. It is an elderly man who recognizes in the Child the light that came to illuminate the nations, who has patiently awaited the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises.

Simeon’s patience. Let us look closely at Simeon’s patience. Throughout his life he waited and exercised the patience of the heart. In prayer he learned that God does not come in extraordinary events, but rather carries out his work in the apparent monotony of our days, in the sometimes tiring rhythm of activities, in the small and insignificant that we carry out with tenacity and humility, trying to do his will. Walking patiently, Simeon did not allow himself to be worn down by the passage of time. He was a man already heavy with years, and yet the flame of his heart was still burning; in his long life he will have at times been hurt and disappointed; however, he did not lose hope. With patience, he kept the promise, without allowing himself to be consumed by the bitterness of the past time or by that resigned melancholy that arises when the twilight of life is reached.

Where did Simeon learn this patience? He received it from the prayer and life of his people, who in the Lord had always recognized the “merciful and compassionate God, who is slow to anger and rich in love and fidelity” (Ex 34,6); the Father who even in the face of rejection and infidelity does not tire, but “endures with patience for many years” (cf. Ne 9:30), to grant again and again the possibility of conversion.

Simeon’s patience is, then, a reflection of God’s patience. From prayer and the history of his people, Simeon learned that God is patient. With his patience – says Saint Paul – “he leads us to conversion” (Rom 2,4). I like to remember Romano Guardini, who said: patience is a way in which God responds to our weakness, to give us time to change (cf. Glaubenserkenntnis, Würzburg 1949, 28). And, above all, the Messiah, Jesus, whom Simeon held in his arms, reveals to us the patience of God, the Father who has mercy on us and calls us until the last hour, who does not demand perfection but the impulse of the heart, that opens new possibilities where everything seems lost, that tries to break through inside us even when we close our hearts, that lets the good wheat grow without pulling out the weeds. This is the reason for our hope: God awaits us without ever tiring. When we get lost, he comes looking for us; when we fall to the ground, it lifts us up; When we return to Him after being lost, He awaits us with open arms. His love is not measured on the scale of our human calculations, but always gives us the courage to start over.

Our patience. Let us look at the patience of God and Simeon for our consecrated life. And let’s ask ourselves: what is patience? It is not a mere tolerance of difficulties or a fatalistic resistance to adversity. Patience is not a sign of weakness: it is the strength of spirit that enables us to “bear the burden” of personal and community problems, makes us welcome the diversity of others, makes us persevere in the good even when everything seems useless, it keeps us moving even when boredom and laziness assail us.

I would like to indicate three “places” in which patience takes concrete form. The first is our personal life. One day we responded to the Lord’s call and, with enthusiasm and generosity, we gave ourselves to Him. Along the way, along with consolations, too

we have received disappointments and frustrations. Sometimes the enthusiasm of our work does not match the results we expected, our sowing does not seem to produce adequate fruit, the fervor of prayer is weakened, and we are no longer immune to spiritual dryness. It can happen, in our consecrated life, that hope is eroded by disappointed expectations. We must be patient with ourselves and confidently wait for God’s times and ways: He is faithful to His promises. Remembering this allows us to rethink our paths and reinvigorate our dreams, without giving in to inner sadness and disenchantment.

The second place where patience takes shape is in community life. Human relationships, especially when it comes to sharing a life project and an apostolic activity, are not always peaceful. Sometimes conflicts arise and we cannot demand an immediate solution, nor should we rush to judge the person or the situation: we must know how to keep our distance, try not to lose peace, wait for the best moment to clarify with charity and truth. In our communities we need this mutual patience: to bear, that is, to carry on our shoulders the life of the brother or sister, including their weaknesses and defects. Let us remember this: the Lord does not call us to be soloists, but to be part of a choir, which sometimes goes out of tune, but must always try to sing together.

Finally, the third “place”, patience before the world. Simeon and Anna cultivated in their hearts the hope announced by the prophets, although it takes a long time to come true and grows slowly in the midst of infidelities and the ruins of the world. They did not regret anything that did not work, but patiently waited for the light in the darkness of history. We need this patience so as not to remain prisoners of the complaint: “the world no longer listens to us”, “we have no more vocations”, “we live in difficult times” … Sometimes it happens that we oppose the patience with which God works the ground from history and from our hearts the impatience of those who judge everything immediately. And so we lose hope.

Patience helps us to look at ourselves, our communities, and the world with mercy. We can ask ourselves: do we welcome the patience of the Spirit in our lives? In our communities, do we carry each other on our shoulders and show the joy of fraternal life? And to the world, do we perform our service patiently or do we judge harshly? They are challenges for our consecrated life: we cannot stay in nostalgia for the past or limit ourselves to repeating the same old thing. We need the courageous patience to walk, to explore new paths, to seek what the Holy Spirit suggests to us.

Let us contemplate the patience of God and implore the confident patience of Simeon, so that our eyes also see the light of salvation and bring it to the whole world.

 

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