Master Class – Encounter Between Old and Young

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Formation, Reflections

The Presentation!

I never appreciated the fourth mystery of the rosary as an encounter between the old and the young. But it is a theme that runs through many of Pope Francis’ homilies on the feast each February 2.

In the Christian East, this feast is called the “Feast of Encounter”: it is the encounter between God, who became a child to bring newness to our world, and an expectant humanity, represented by the elderly man and woman in the Temple.

Joseph and Mary present Jesus in the temple. Two elderly and devout Jews recognize in the infant Jesus the fulfillment of the greatest promise of the ages.

As I read Pope Francis’ homilies for each February 2 celebration I began to see what I had never before seen.

Listen to Francis

…  live the encounter between the young (Mary and Joseph) and the old (Simeon and Anna), between observation and prophecy. Let’s not see these as two opposing realities! Let us rather allow the Holy Spirit to animate both of them, and a sign of this is joy.


… This event fulfills the prophecy of Joel: “Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions” (2:28). In this encounter, the young see their mission and the elderly realize their dreams. All because, at the center of the encounter, is Jesus.

Generally, it is the young who speak enthusiastically about the future, while the elderly protect the past. In the Gospel, the very opposite occurs, because when we meet one another in the Lord, God’s surprises immediately follow.

For if the young are called to open new doors, the elderly hold the keys. (A religious institute) remains youthful by going back to its roots, by listening to its older members.

There is no future without this encounter between the old and the young. There is no growth without roots and no flowering without new buds. There is never prophecy without memory, or memory without prophecy. And constant encounter.

Homily 2018

It’s good for the elderly to communicate their wisdom to the young; and it’s good for the young people to gather this wealth of experience and wisdom, and to carry it forward, not so as to safeguard it in a museum, but to carry it forward addressing the challenges that life brings.

Here it is not young people who are creative: the young, like Mary and Joseph, follow the law of the Lord, the path of obedience. The elderly, like Simeon and Anna, see in the Child the fulfillment of the Law and the promises of God. And they are able to celebrate: they are creative in joy and wisdom. And the Lord turns obedience into wisdom by the working of his Holy Spirit.

Homily  2015

Let’s look at Simeon and Anna: even if they are advanced in years, they don’t spend days regretting a past that never comes back, but they open their arms to the future that comes to meet them.

Brothers and sisters, let’s not waste today looking at yesterday, or dreaming of a tomorrow that will never come, but let us place ourselves before the Lord, in adoration, and ask for eyes that know how to see the good and see the ways of God. The Lord will give them to us, if we ask for it. With joy, with fortitude, without fear.

Homily 2022

Most recently he writes…

Simeon and Anna are the image and figure of this longing.  Upon seeing the Lord enter his temple, they are enlightened by the Holy Spirit and recognize him as the child whom Mary carries in her arms. They had been waiting for him all their lives: Simeon, “righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Lk 2:25); Anna, who “did not depart from the temple” (Lk 2:37).

It is good for us to look at these two elders who were waiting patiently, vigilant in spirit and persevering in prayer. Their hearts have stayed awake, like an eternal flame. They are advanced in age, but young at heart. They do not let the days wear them down, for their eyes remain fixed on God in expectation (cf. Ps 145:15). Fixed on God in expectation, always in expectation. Along life’s journey, they have experienced hardships and disappointments, but they have not given in to defeat: they have not “retired” hope. As they contemplate the child, they recognize that the time has come, the prophecy has been fulfilled, the One they sought and yearned for, the Messiah of the nations, has arrived. By staying awake in expectation of the Lord, they are able to welcome him in the newness of his coming.

Homily 2024


  • Do you experience/model such complimentarity in your encounters?
  • Might your own tendency lean more to looking at yesterday… or… dreaming of tomorrow?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk