08/17/2022, 12.08
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Pope: Covenant of old people and children will save the human family

Francis at general audience: "Giving witness to faith is the vocation of the elderly." Invocation for peace to the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The covenant between the old and young will save the human family," said Pope Francis this morning, speaking to the approximately four thousand faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican for the general audience. "Where the young speak with the old, there is future: if this is missing, the future cannot be seen clearly," Francis said.

In today's catechesis, the Pope, continuing his catechesis on old age, focused his meditation on the theme, "Ancient of Days”, presented in a vision of the prophet Daniel (Dn 7:9) and echoed in the Book of Revelation (cf. Rev 1:13-14). The Holy Father began with the words of Daniel's prophetic dream, evoking "a vision of God that is both mysterious and shining." This vision is taken up at the beginning of the book of Revelation, referring to the Risen Jesus, who appears to the Seer as Messiah, Priest and King, eternal, omniscient and immutable. He lays a hand on the Seer's shoulder and reassures him, "Fear not! I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but now I live forever" (vv. 17-18).

"The Living One reassures us. He, too, is dead, but now he occupies his destined place: that of the First and the Last," Francis said. The vision communicates an impression of vigor and strength, nobility, beauty and charm, but his hair is white like that of an old man. "The white hair is the ancient symbol of a very long time, of an immemorial past, of an eternal existence," and "it is not a foolish symbol," the pope reminded.

"The Figure that stands between the golden candlesticks in Revelation overlaps with that of the Ancient of Days of Daniel's prophecy," the pontiff continued, "It is ancient and new like the eternity of God. God, in fact, is always renewed and "comes to meet us in a way that is special to us each time."

In the Eastern Churches, the Feast of the Encounter with the Lord, celebrated on Feb. 2, is one of the twelve great feasts of the liturgical year, highlighting the encounter between humanity, represented by the watchmen Simeon and Anna, and Christ the Lord, the eternal Son of God made man. Simeon's gesture is illustrative in pointing to the special vocation of old age: "To present the children who come into the world as an unbroken gift from God, knowing that one of them is the Son begotten in the very intimacy of God, before all ages." "Old age must bear witness to children of their blessing: it consists in their initiation, both beautiful and difficult, into the mystery of a destination to life that no one can annihilate. Not even death," Francis said. The pope insisted on this point: "Giving witness to humanity and faith is the vocation of the elderly." The witness of the elderly unites the ages of life and the very dimensions of time: past, present and future.

"It is painful and harmful to see that we conceive of the ages of life as separate, competing worlds, each trying to live at the expense of the other." Indeed, humanity is ancient, if we look at clock time, but "the Son of God, who was born of woman, is the First and the Last of all time." So it will be precisely the covenant of old men and children that will save the human family. Hope for humanity and the beauty of life will then pass from the wisdom of the elderly, if they will be able to pass the baton to the young. The words of the holy father, after the summary of the catechesis in the various languages, were followed by an out of program full of tenderness: Pope Francis welcomed a child into his arms, who remained beside him until the end of the audience. "We were speaking precisely about the dialogue between old and young: it was brave this child and how calm he remains!" the pope commented.

"May this summer season, which for so many is a time of vacation, be for all an opportunity to draw even closer to Jesus Christ," said the holy father, greeting the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims. "He lays His hand on our shoulders, invigorates us and animates us to seek Him in the elderly and the poor. Addressing the Polish pilgrims, he again recalled all those who are walking to the shrine of Jasna Góra these days, praying for peace and reconciliation in the world. "Among them are many Ukrainians who have found in your country a hospitable home. Let us entrust the destiny of Europe and the world to the Black Madonna," Francis said. In closing, the pope did not fail to refer once again to the ongoing war: "My thoughts as always go to Ukraine: let us not forget that tormented people."

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