“As one grows older, one’s vision weakens but the inner gaze becomes sharper. One can see the things that have been overlooked before. This is how it is: the Lord does not just entrust his gifts to the young and the strong: he has gifts for everyone and designs for each one of us. ” This is what His Holiness Pope Francis said in his general interview with the believers
Today, Wednesday, His Holiness Pope Francis held his general meeting with the believers at St. Held Peter’s Square in the Vatican and began his weekly teaching by saying that today we will be talking about Judith, a biblical heroine. The conclusion of the book bearing her name – and we heard an excerpt from it – sums up the last part of this woman’s life that Israel defended from her enemies. Judith was a young and virtuous Jewish widow who through her faith, beauty and cunning saved the city of Bethelia and the people of Judah from the siege of Eliphana, the leader of the army of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Assyria, a mighty and despicable enemy of God. After the wonderful adventure she embarked on, Yehudit returned to live in her hometown, Beit Faliwa, where she lived to a beautiful age until she was one hundred and five years old. As for many people: sometimes after an intense work life, sometimes after a life full of adventure, or after a life full of dedication. Heroism is not only the great events that take place in the spotlight, but often in the courage of the love that flows into a difficult family and to the benefit of an endangered group. Judith has been living for over a hundred years, this is a special blessing. But it is not uncommon to have many more years to live today after retirement. How do we explain, and how do we make use of this time given to us?
For many, the perspective of retirement coincides with the perspective of deserved and desirable rest from obligatory and tiring activities. But the end of the job also happens to be a cause for concern and one can wait with some anxiety for it: “What am I going to do now that my life has been empty for so long?”. Day-to-day work also means a combination of relationships, the satisfaction of making a living, the experience of getting a role, well-deserved consideration and a full-time job that extends beyond simple working hours. Of course, there is the joyful and tiring commitment to caring for grandchildren; But we do know that far fewer children are born today than in the past, parents are often far away, more prone to commuting and traveling, with inadequate working and housing conditions. Sometimes they are also more reluctant to give grandparents educational spaces, giving them only spaces that are closely related to the need for help. There are new demands, also in the field of pedagogical and parental relationships, that require us to reconstruct the traditional covenant between generations.
But we ask ourselves: Are we making this “reconfiguration” attempt? Or are we simply suffering from the stagnation of material and economic conditions? In fact, coexistence between generations is extended. Will we all try to make it more human, more loving, more just in the new conditions of modern societies? For grandparents, an important part of their calling is to support their children in raising children. Young children learn the power of tenderness and respect for fragility: indispensable lessons that are easy to give and receive from grandparents. Grandparents, in turn, are taught that tenderness and fragility are not merely signs of decline: for young people, they are the paths that make the future human.
The pope went on to say: Judith soon became a widow and had no children, but as an elderly woman she could experience a time of fullness and calm, in the certainty that she was the mission entrusted to her. , fully lived out. Here. It’s time she left the good legacy of wisdom, tenderness and gifts to the family and the community: a good legacy, not just a good one. In her old age, Judith freed her maid. It is a sign of the attentive and human gaze on those who were close to her. As one gets older, their eyesight weakens but the inner gaze becomes sharper. One becomes able to see things that have been overlooked before. This is how it is: the Lord does not just entrust His gifts to the young and the strong: He has gifts for all and is designed for each of us. The life of our communities must know how to enjoy the talents of the many elderly, who have retired for the Civil Registration Office, but who are rich and we must appreciate it. It requires, from the elderly themselves, a fresh and creative interest, and a generous readiness. Previous skills for an active life lose some of the limitations and become resources to give: teaching, advising, building, caring, listening … in favor of the poorest, who can not get an education, or who give to them loneliness is left.
Pope Francis concluded his weekly teaching by saying that Judith had freed her maid and blinded everyone with interest. When she was a young woman, she was appreciated by the community for her courage, and when she was old, she deserved to be appreciated for the tenderness with which she enriched freedom and emotions. Judith is not a retired woman who unfortunately lives her emptiness: she is an elderly, passionate woman who fills the time God gives her with gifts.