During Mass at Casa Santa Marta this morning, Pope Francis called on the faithful to care for grandparents, for without them there is no future.
The Holy Father drew his homily from today’s first reading from the book of Maccabees, which spoke of the elderly Eleazar, who chose martyrdom instead of betraying his faith.
“By manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws,” Eleazar says before his death.The Holy Father noted Eleazar’s decision to die in order to leave an example to the youth, saying that in front of the choice between apostasy and fidelity, he does not doubt.
“[There is] the coherence of this man, the coherence of his faith, but also the responsibility of leaving a noble heritage, a true heritage,” the Pope said. “We live in a time when the elderly do not count. It’s awful to say, but they are discarded. Because they are a nuisance to us. The elderly are those who carry history, that carry doctrine, that carry the faith and give it to us as an inheritance. They are like a good vintage wine who have this strength from within to give us a noble heritage.”
The Holy Father recalled a short story he heard as a child. The story relates to a family, consisting of a father, mother, the children and the grandfather, gathered around the table. The father, annoyed by the grandfather who would dirty himself while eating, suggests buying a separate table to isolate the grandfather. When the father returns home one day, he finds his son playing with wood. The father asks his child what he was doing with the wood, to which the child replied, “To make a table for you father, when you become old like grandpa.”
“This story has done me so much good, all my life,” the Pope said. “Grandparents are a treasure.”
“The Letter to the Hebrews, the 13th chapter says: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” The memory of our ancestors brings us to the imitation of faith.”
The Holy Father went on to say that the knowledge that the elderly bare is an inheritance that all should received. “A people that does not care for its grandparents, a people that does not respect their grandparents, does not have a future, because they do not have a memory, they have lost their memory,” he stressed.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on the faithful to remember those elderly who live in retirement homes, especially those who are abandoned by their families. The elderly, he said, are the treasure of our society. The Holy Father prayed for all grandparents “who many times had a heroic role in the transmission of faith in times of persecution.”
“The fourth commandment: it is the only one that promises something in return. It is the commandment of mercy – to be merciful with our ancestors. Let us ask today for the grace from the old Saints – Simeon, Anne, Policarpo and Eleazar – so many old Saints: let us ask for the grace to take care of, to listen and venerate our ancestors, our grandparents.”