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Pope Francis gave a blessing to 100-year-old Lucilla Macelli before celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, marking World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly July 23.
Pope Francis gave a blessing to 100-year-old Lucilla Macelli before celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, marking World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly July 23.
Photo Credit: Vatican Media

POPE’S MESSAGE | To tackle life’s ups and downs, look to the elderly

At Mass for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, pope encouraged all to mingle and grow together

VATICAN CITY — The Gospel calls Christians to bring the elderly to the center of their lives and away from the margins of families, politics and financial markets that banish them as “unprofitable waste” in society, Pope Francis said.

“Let it not happen that by pursuing the myths of efficiency and performance at full speed we become unable to slow down to accompany those who struggle to keep up,” he said in his homily at a Mass for World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in St. Peter’s Basilica July 23.

“Please, let us mingle and grow together,” he said.

Elderly persons in wheelchairs were seated in the front row before the altar and alongside Pope Francis. Several grandparents with young children in tow were scattered among the estimated 6,000 people in attendance at the basilica.

“We need a new alliance between young people and the elderly,” Pope Francis told them in his homily, “so that the sap of those who have a long experience of life behind them will nourish the shoots of hope of those who are growing.”

“In this fruitful exchange we can learn the beauty of life, build a fraternal society and in the Church we can allow for encounter and dialogue between tradition and the newness of the Spirit,” he said.

Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell was the main celebrant at the altar. The theme for this year’s celebration was, “His mercy is from age to age,” taken from St. Luke’s Gospel. Cardinal Farrell is the prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, which organizes the world day.

In the homily, the pope related the elderly’s role in society to the three parables Jesus tells in the day’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew.

In the first parable, the devil plants weeds among a wheat crop while the householder is asleep, but rather than tell his slaves to pull them up, he allows them to grow until harvest for fear of uprooting the wheat with it.

“The good and the bad are intertwined to the point of appearing inseparable,” Pope Francis said. But, “Christians, enlivened by hope in God, are not pessimists, but neither are they naive people who live in a fairy-tale world, who pretend not to see evil and say ‘all is well.’”

The elderly, who have “already come a long way in life,” he said, are examples of embracing life’s beauty as well as its challenges.

“Old age is a blessed time also for this reason: it is the season to be reconciled, to look with tenderness at the light that has advanced despite the shadows, in the faithful hope that the good wheat sowed by God will prevail over the weeds with which the devil has wished to infest our hearts,” the pope said.

Urging the elderly and young people to engage with one another, the pope turned to the parable of the yeast in which a whole batch of bread is leavened by a small measure of yeast. He encouraged the young and elderly to “mix with one another” and to “come out from yourself to join with others.”

Such intergenerational interaction, he said, “defeats individualism and selfishness, and helps us generate a more humane and fraternal world.”

Editor’s note: Pope Francis is not holding his Wednesday audiences in July. He will hold his general audiences on Wednesdays in August.

From the Archive Module

POPES MESSAGE To tackle lifes ups and downs look to the elderly 8827

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