Pope Francis: The gratitude of the elderly for the gifts they received from God in their lives brings the joy of coexistence back to society

“Society is truly hospitable to life when it realizes that it is precious even in old age, weakness, in serious illness, and when you are on the brink of death,” His Holiness Pope Francis said in his public interview with the believers.

His Holiness Pope Francis this morning held his general meeting with the believers at St. Held Peter’s Square in the Vatican and began his weekly teaching by saying: We have heard the simple and moving account of the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law – who was not yet Peter – according to the Gospel of Mark. The Gospels present this short event, with slight but suggestive differences with the other two Gospels. Saint Mark wrote: “Simon’s mother-in-law was feverish in bed.” We do not know if it is a mild illness, but in old age even a simple fever can be dangerous. When we grow old, we no longer have the ability to control our body. We must therefore learn to choose what to do and what not to do. Physical strength weakens and leaves us even though our hearts never cease to desire. Therefore, it is necessary to learn to purify desire: to be patient, to choose what we ask of the body and of life.

Pope Francis further said that illness affects the elderly in a different and new way than whether the person is a young person or an adult. It’s like a heavy blow to a difficult stage in itself. Elderly diseases seem to hasten death and shorten the lifespan we consider short. The suspicion creeps in that we will not recover, and that “this time will be the last time I will get sick …”. It is impossible for us to dream of hope in a future that apparently does not exist. The famous Italian author Italo Calvino referred to the bitterness of the elderly, who suffer more from the loss of old things than they enjoy the coming of new things. But the gospel scene we heard helps us with hope and offers us a first lesson: that Jesus not only went to visit that old woman, but went with his disciples.

The Holy Father added that the Christian community should take care of the elderly: family and friends. Visits to the elderly should be done very together and regularly. We must never forget these three rules of the Bible. Especially today, the number of elderly people has grown significantly. We must feel the responsibility to visit the elderly, who are often alone, and to present them to the Lord in our prayers. And Jesus himself will teach us how to love them. Society is truly hospitable to life when it realizes that it is precious even in old age, weakness and serious illness, and when it is on the verge of death. When Jesus saw the old woman sick, he took her hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her. With this tender gesture of love, Jesus gave the first lesson to the disciples: that salvation is proclaimed, indeed communicated, by paying attention to that sick person; And the faith of that woman shines brightly in gratitude for the tenderness of God, which bowed down upon her. I return to a theme I repeat in these teachings: this culture of exclusion seems to eradicate the elderly. Yes, it does not kill them, but it erases them socially, as if they are a burden we have to carry on and therefore it is better to hide them. It’s a betrayal of our humanity, and it’s the worst thing, it’s a choice of life according to advantage, and according to its youth, not to life as it is, with the wisdom and limitations of the elderly. The elderly have much to offer us: there is the wisdom of life. And they also have a lot to teach us: that’s why we need to teach the children to take care of their grandparents and visit them. Dialogue between children, young people and grandparents is essential, essential to society, essential to the Church, and essential to the safety of life. Where there is no dialogue between young and old, something is missing and a generation without a past grows up, that is, without roots.

The Pope went on to say that if Jesus was the one who gave the first lesson, then the second lesson is given to us by the old woman, who “got up and began to serve them.” Even as an elderly person, one can and must serve the community. It is a good thing that the elderly continue to strengthen the responsibility of service, and to overcome the experience of retirement. The Lord does not exclude them, but on the contrary gives them the power to serve. And it is pleasing to me to note that there is no special emphasis in the story on the side of evangelists: it is the natural state of imitation of Christ, which will teach the disciples, in all its importance, along the path of formation that they will experience at Jesus’ School. The elderly who maintain a willingness to heal, comfort and intercede for their brothers and sisters – disciples, or a hundred leaders, or people who are tormented by evil spirits, or marginalized people … – are perhaps the highest evidence of the purity of this gratitude that accompanies faith. If the elderly are placed in the center of collective attention, rather than being driven out and driven from the scene of events that characterize the life of society, they will be encouraged to carry out the precious service of gratitude to the unforgettable God. exercise. The gratitude of the elderly for the gifts they received from God in their lives, as Peter’s mother-in-law teaches us, restores the joy of coexistence to society and gives the faith of the disciples the essential characteristic of its purpose. .

Pope Francis concluded his weekly catechism by saying: But we must understand very well that the spirit of intercession and service, which Jesus described to all his disciples, is not just a matter of women: there is not even a shadow of this limitation, in the words and deeds of Jesus. The evangelistic service of gratitude for God’s tenderness is by no means enshrined in the rules of the master and the servant. However, this does not mean that women cannot teach men things about gratitude and the tenderness of faith that are difficult for them to understand. Before the apostles arrived, Peter’s mother-in-law also showed them the way to follow Jesus. The special tenderness of Jesus, who “came to her” and “took her hand”, made clear from the beginning his special concern for the weak and sick, which the Son of God certainly learned from his mother. Let us please strive for the elderly, grandparents and grandmothers to be close to the children and young people in order to convey the memory of life, the life experience and the wisdom of life to them. The more we provide for communication and bonding between young and old, the more hope there will be for the future of our society.

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