The old still have a lot to offer young people, Pope Francis says
VATICAN— On Tuesday Pope Francis said that the older generation should not stop striving in their spiritual lives, but that God calls them to be spiritual ‘grandparents’ to young people, who can learn from their experiences.
“And this is what the Lord today asks us: to be grandparents. To have the vitality to give to young people, because young people expect it from us; to not close ourselves, to give our best: they look for our experience, for our positive dreams to carry on the prophecy and the work.”
“I ask the Lord for all of us that he give us this grace,” the Pope said June 27.
Pope Francis said a special Mass June 27 in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination as an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992.
The Mass was attended by the cardinals in Rome. This was the Pope’s final morning Mass before the start of the usual summer break from morning activities. They will resume in September after he returns from his apostolic trip to Colombia.
For his homily, Francis preached on the day’s first reading, which contains the continuation of a dialogue between God and the now elderly Abraham. In this dialogue we hear three imperatives, the Pope said: “Get up! Look! Hope!”
Abraham, he said, was more or less the same age as those present when God called him.
“He was going to go into retirement, in retirement to rest… He started at that age. An old man, with the weight of old age, old age that brings pain, illness…. But you, as if you were a young man, get up, go go!”
“And to us today the Lord says the same: ‘Get up! Look! Hope!’ He tells us that it’s not time to put our life in closure, not to close our story, not to compile our story. The Lord tells us that our story is open, still: it is open until the end, it is open with a mission. And with these three imperatives tells us the mission: ‘Get up! Look! Hope!’” Francis emphasized.
The Pope reflected that there are some people who might not want the older people around, maybe calling them a “gerontocracy of the Church.” These people don’t know what they are saying, he explained: “we’re not geriatrics, we’re grandparents.”
And if we don’t understand this, we should pray for the grace to do so, he said.
This is because we are “Grandparents to whom our grandchildren look. Grandparents who have to give them a sense of life with our experience. Grandparents not closed in the melancholy of our story, but open to give this. And for us, this ‘get up, look, hope’ is called ‘dreaming,’” he said.
“We are grandparents called to dream and give our dream to today’s youth: they needs it.”
Pope Francis explained what these three words mean. To get up, he said, means you have a mission, you have a task. Just like Abraham walked, not making a home anywhere but only taking a tent, we are called to continue forward, all the way to the end of our lives.
In the second command, to “look!” God tells Abraham set his gaze on the horizon, always looking and moving ahead. There is a mystic spirituality to the horizon, the Pope said. It doesn’t end, but the further forward you go, the horizon continues to recede into the distance.
The third imperative was to have hope. Just like Abraham should not have been able to have children because of his age and because of the sterility of his wife, the Lord promises him offspring as numerous as the stars and Abraham has faith in the word of God.
This is the kind of hope in God’s promises we are called to have, Francis said.
At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis thanked Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, for his kind words, as well as everyone for their well-wishes and for celebrating Mass with him on his anniversary.
“Thank you for this common prayer on this anniversary, asking forgiveness for my sins and perseverance in faith, hope, charity,” he said.
“I thank you so much for this fraternal company and ask the Lord to bless you and accompany you on the road of service to the Church. Thank you very much.”