Pope: May Saint Lawrence inspire the desire ‘to bear witness to the Gospel'
At the general audience, the pontiff urged the faithful once again to become builders of “unity and peace” in the family, the Church and society. In his catechesis on old age, Francis noted that it is "a promise" and a time to approach with greater wisdom the encounter with God. For him, seeking eternal youth is “delusional”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In today’s General Audience in the Paul Vi Hall, Pope Francis exhorted the faithful to be builders of unity and peace in the family, the Church and society.
He spoke on the day the Church remembers Saint Lawrence, a 3rd-century martyr who, according to tradition, was burnt alive on a gridiron prepared with hot coals beneath it.
In his address, the pontiff greeted Italian pilgrims, saying: “May the liturgical feast of St Lawrence, deacon and martyr of the Church of Rome, inspire the desire in each one of you to bear witness to the Gospel, always available for the poor and those in difficulty.”
He also said: “It is not easy to be builders of peace, but we must do it, because it is a good job” and dedicated a “thought also to the people of Ukraine who are still suffering this cruel war. I would also like to pray for the migrants who are arriving continuously.”
With an eye on the latest events, the pontiff also expressed his closeness to the victims of an explosion and subsequent fires at an oil depot in Matanzas, Cuba. “Let us ask our Mother, Queen of Heaven, watch over the victims of this tragedy and their families," he said, as he greeted Spanish-speaking pilgrims.
In today’s catechesis, titled: “‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ Old age, a time projected towards fulfilment”, Francis spoke again about aging.
Starting from Jesus' farewell address to his disciples, Francis highlighted his “words of consolation and promise: ‘Let not your hearts be troubled’ (Jn 14:1). When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’ (14:3). [. . .] He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these he will do’ (14:12).”
For the pope, “Old age is the fitting time for the moving and joyful witness of expectation”. The works of faith, now beyond the power of youthful energies and impulses, “make the promise of the true destination of life even more transparent. And what is the true destination of life? A place at the table with God, in the world of God.”
The pontiff noted that it would be interesting to see local Churches revive “this special ministry of awaiting the Lord [. . .] encouraging individual charisms and community qualities of the elderly person.”
Old age, according to the Holy Father, must be lived with gentleness and respect for actual life, conscious that this is possible because of Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven.
“Our life is not made to be wrapped up in itself, in an imaginary earthly perfection; it is destined to go beyond, through the passage of death. Let us not forget that the point of arrival is not here but “beside the Lord, where he dwells forever.”
Human existence on earth is nothing but a process of “novitiate”; in fact, “we are apprentices of life”, learning to appreciate God's gift.
Thus, “The conceit of stopping time – of wanting eternal youth, unlimited wellbeing, absolute power – is not only impossible, it is delusional,” Francis explained. “Our existence on earth is the time of the initiation of life,” which “finds fulfilment only in God.”
Old age brings closer the hope of such fulfilment and is credible when it invites us to rejoice in the passage of time. “The old age that rediscovers the depth of the gaze of faith” is therefore the goal to aspire to, always striving towards the eternal joy promised by Jesus.
Finally, “Dear brothers and sisters, old age, lived in the expectation of the Lord, can become the fulfilled ‘apologia’ of faith, which gives grounds, for everyone, for our hope for all”.
Greeting French-speaking pilgrims, at the end of the audience, the pontiff also referred to the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which will be celebrated in a few days.
"Having entered the glory of heaven, may she sustain our courage at this time of pilgrimage which we must still experience here on earth, and may she help the elderly bear joyful witness to their faith and hope.”