Pope: let's not get used to living as if war was far away
The pontiff issued a new appeal during today’s general audience. Continuing the series of catechesis on old age, he said that “Even in old age one can, or rather one must serve the community.” He also noted that “we must listen to the body and accept its limits. We all have them.” The Solemnity of Corpus Christi calls upon us “to go out and bring the Lord into everyday life”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis made another appeal during this morning’s general audience in St Peter's Square in Rome not to let one’s heart grow insensitive towards the suffering of the Ukrainian people and the brutality of war.
“Please, let us not forget the battered people of Ukraine at war. Let us not get used to living as if war was a distant thing,” the pope said. “May our remembrance, affection, prayer, and help always be close to this people who are suffering so much and enduring true martyrdom.”
As he continued his series of catechesis on old age, Francis centred today’s lecture on the theme “The joyful service of faith that is learned in gratitude”.
The “throwaway culture seems to cancel out the elderly,” Francis bemoans. “Yes, it does not kill them, but socially it eliminates them, as if they were a burden to carry: it is better to conceal them.
“This is a betrayal of our own humanity, this is the worst thing, this is choosing life according to utility, according to young and not with life as it is, with the wisdom of the elderly, with the limits of the elderly.”
For the pontiff, the elderly have so much to teach; for this reason, the interaction of children and youth with grandparents is fundamental for society, the Church, and the “health of life” itself. “Where there is no dialogue between the young and the old, something is lacking and a generation grows up without past, that is, without roots.”
Turning to the story of the healing of Simon's mother-in-law (when he was not yet called Peter), the pope noted that, as an old person, one no longer commands one's own body. Hence, “we must listen to the body and accept its limits. We all have them. I too have to use a walking stick now.”
The Gospel scene of the healing of Simon's mother-in-law already offers a first teaching. “Jesus does not visit that sick old woman by himself: he goes there together with the disciples.” Thus, “It is precisely the Christian community that must take care of the elderly: relatives and friends”.
This is why it is important to visit the elderly, especially today that their numbers have grown considerably, also due to the demographic winter.
"Life is always precious," the pope said. “A society truly welcomes life when it recognizes that it is also precious in old age, in disability, in serious illness and even when it is fading,” he added quoting from his Message to the Pontifical Academy for Life (19 February 2014).
When he saw the sick old woman, Jesus took her by the hand and healed her by putting her back on her feet; it is precisely this act of love that gives the first lesson to the disciples. Hence, “salvation is announced or, better, communicated through attention to that sick person; and the woman’s faith shines in gratitude for the tenderness of God who stooped to her.”
The second lesson was given by the old woman herself when she got up and started to serve the disciples. “Even in old age one can, or rather one must serve the community,” the pontiff said, explaining that the Lord does not discard the elderly; on the contrary, he gives them back their strength to serve.
“The elderly who retain the disposition for healing, consolation, intercession for their brothers and sisters – be they disciples, centurions, people disturbed by evil spirits, those who are rejected – are perhaps the highest testimony to the purity of this gratitude that accompanies faith.”
This is the “gratitude of elderly people for the gifts received from God during their life, as Peter’s mother-in-law teaches us,” restoring “to the community the joy of living together.”
The spirit of intercession and service, which Jesus prescribed to all his disciples, however, “is not simply a matter for women”, nor is it “in any way written according to the grammar of the man who is master and the woman who serves.” And yet, “this does not detract from the fact that women, in the gratitude and tenderness of faith, can teach men things they find more difficult to understand.”
On the day before the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which is celebrated next Sunday in Italy, the pope told German-speaking pilgrims that this solemnity “invites us to go out and bring the Lord into everyday life, taking him where life unfolds with all its joys and sufferings.”
Finally, "May the Eucharist, the mystery of love, be for all of you a source of grace and light that illuminates the paths of life, be your support amid difficulties and sublime comfort in everyday suffering.”
Photo: Vatican Media