July 2021


Seeing, sharing and keeping: three words inspired by the Gospel of John that Pope Francis wished to apply to our attitude towards grandparents and the elderly, in his homily during the Mass celebrated on the first day dedicated to them, Sunday 25 July, in St. Peter's Basilica. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, read the homily calling for a new alliance between generations.

On this day dedicated to grandparents and the elderly, in his homily read by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Pope Francis wished to dwell on three moments of the Gospel of John: Jesus who sees the hunger of the crowd; Jesus who shares the bread; Jesus who recommends to gather the pieces that are left over. "Three moments summed up in three verbs: seeing, sharing, and keeping."

And the Pope assured that this gaze is the one that grandparents and the elderly have had on our lives, "it is the way they have taken care of us since our childhood." "After a life often made of sacrifice, they have not been indifferent or busy without us. They have had attentive eyes, filled with tenderness," Francis added, recalling that we all passed through the laps of grandparents, who held us in their arms. "And it is also thanks to this love that we have become adults."

And the Pontiff asked: what about us, how do we look at grandparents and the elderly? When was the last time we kept an elderly person company or phoned them to express our closeness and let ourselves be blessed by their words?

"I suffer when I see a society that runs, busy and indifferent, absorbed by too many things and unable to stop for a glance, a greeting, a caress," lamented the Successor of Peter.

"I am afraid of a society in which we are all an anonymous crowd and we are no longer able to look up and recognize each other. The grandparents, who have nourished our lives, are now hungry for us: for our attention, for our tenderness. To feel close to us. Let us look up to them, as Jesus did to us," the Holy Father urged, before exploring the second verb, "to share," pleading for a new covenant between generations.

"Today we need a new covenant between young and old, to share the common treasure of life, to dream together, to overcome the conflicts between generations in order to prepare the future for all," the Argentine Pontiff elaborated, warning that without this covenant of life, of dreams and of the future, "we risk starving, because broken bonds, solitudes, egoisms, destructive forces increase."

"Today we need a new alliance between young and old, to share the common treasure of life"

"Young and old, the treasure of tradition and the freshness of the Spirit. Young and old together. In society and in the Church: together", asked the Pope, coming to the third key word.

To guard. After they had eaten, the Gospel mentions that many pieces of bread were left over. And Jesus recommends: "Gather up the extra pieces, so that nothing is lost" (Jn 6:12). "This is how God's heart is: not only does he give us more than we need, but he also cares that nothing is lost, not even a fragment," Francis assured, insisting that a small piece of bread may not seem like much, but in God's eyes nothing should be thrown away. "All the more reason why no one should be rejected.

It is therefore a prophetic invitation launched by the Pope: "gather, preserve with care, keep". "Grandparents and the elderly are not the remains of life, garbage to be thrown away", the Pope affirmed, on the contrary, they are those precious pieces of bread that have remained on the table of our life, that can still nourish us with a pleasant smell that we have lost, "the pleasant smell of memory".

And the Pontiff wishes that we did not lose the memory that the elderly carry, "because we are children of this history and without roots we will wither". "They have protected us along the path of growth, now it is up to us to protect their lives, to alleviate their difficulties, to listen to their needs, to create the conditions so that they can be facilitated in the daily tasks and not feel alone.

Let us ask ourselves, Francis insists concretely: "Have I visited my grandparents? Did I visit the elderly in my family or in my neighborhood? Did I listen to them? Did I give them a little time?

"Brothers and sisters, grandparents and the elderly are the bread that feeds our lives. Please, let us not forget them. Let us ally ourselves with them. Let us learn to stop, to recognize them, to listen to them. Let us never reject them. Let us keep them in love. And let us learn to share time with them. We will come out better for it. And together, young and old, we will be satisfied at the table of sharing blessed by God," concluded the Holy Father in this homily delivered by the President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.