June 8, 2022
Continuing his catechesis on the value of the elderly and old age at the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis reflects on the Biblical figure of Nicodemus, and says the elderly are messengers of tenderness, wisdom and love.
The tenderness of the elderly shows us the tenderness of God.
Pope Francis stressed this during his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, as he continued his series of catechesis “on the meaning and value of old age in the light of God’s Word.” He reflected this week on the New Testament figure of Nicodemus.
The Pope said he wished to emphasize “the tenderness of the elderly” and grandparents, highlighting how God is equally tender with us.
This tenderness, he said, opens the door toward understanding God’s tenderness.
Born anew, not living forever
The Pope considered the words spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus: “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born anew” (Jn 3:3) by water and the Holy Spirit.
This spiritual rebirth, the Pope suggested, does not negate or detract from the value of our earthly existence, but “points it towards its ultimate fulfillment in the eternal life and joy of heaven.”
Our age, with its frantic pursuit of the myth of eternal youth, the Holy Father underscored, needs to relearn this truth and to see every age of life as preparation for the eternal happiness for which we were created.
Jesus had told Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.”
Witness to God’s presence in our midst
The elderly, through their faith, wisdom and experience, can bear convincing witness to the presence of God’s kingdom in our midst and the authentic meaning of our earthly existence as a foretaste of that true “eternal youth” which awaits us in the new creation inaugurated by Christ and his Holy Spirit.
The Holy Father highlighted the beauty of old age.
“Old age moves ahead toward its destination, towards God’s heaven,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded by praying, “May the Spirit grant us the re-opening of this spiritual – and cultural – mission of old age that reconciles us with the birth from above.”