(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

May 25, 2022

At the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis continues his catechesis on old age, and urges the elderly to hold on to their passion for justice while resisting the temptation to accumulate knowledge without turning it into action.

Pope Francis reflected on the Old Testament Book of Qoheleth, or Ecclesiastes, at the weekly General Audience, noting how its refrain “everything is vanity” represents a particular temptation in our own day and age.

He said the wise man Qoheleth bounced back and forth from sense and meaninglessness in his quest for knowledge of life, saying he teetered on non-sense when leaning toward knowledge detached from “passion for justice.”

Qoheleth, added the Pope, concluded his book with an indication of how to get out of the trap: “Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.”

Elderly must embrace passion for justice

Pope Francis said each of us has been tempted toward indifference when we see that our efforts seem to produce no results and reality appears to turn everything—both good and bad—into nothingness.

He added that “a kind of negative intuition” especially tempts people advanced in years, possibly leading them to disenchantment.

“The resistance of old age to the demoralising effects of disenchantment is decisive: If the elderly, who have now seen it all, keep intact their passion for justice, then there is hope for love, and also for faith.”

The Pope said our contemporary world believes it can “measure and manipulate everything”, which then results in “a collective demoralization of meaning, love, and goodness.”

Truth without action leads to paralysis

The Holy Father went on to reflect on why knowledge detached from action is so harmful to a person.

“A supposed ‘truth’, which limits itself to registering the world, also registers its indifference to opposites and consigns them, without redemption, to the flow of time and the fate of nothingness. In this form – cloaked in the trappings of science, but also very insensitive and very amoral – the modern quest for truth has been tempted to take leave of its passion for justice altogether. It no longer believes in its destiny, its promise, its redemption.”

Pope Francis said modern culture “combines knowledge and irresponsibility” in an attempt to take away the moral impact of our actions, and takes us down the path of “paralysis of the soul.”

By Devin Watkins

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