FULL TEXT Homily of Pope Francis at Holy Mass for World Grandparents' Day "The grandparents, who nourished our life, today are hungry for us: for our attention...Let us look up at them, as Jesus does with us."
WORLD DAY OF GRANDPARENTS AND ELDERLY
HOLY MASS - HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS (Pope Francis did not celebrate the Mass but sent a homily which was read)
St. Peter's Basilica - Sunday, 25 July 2021
Words of HE Mons. Rino Fisichella at the beginning of the celebration
Brothers and sisters, dear grandmothers and dear grandparents, you rightly awaited Pope Francis. The Pope will greet you at the end, celebrating the Angelus . You know that these, for him, are days of convalescence, and we want him not to tire himself further, so that he can spend these last days in rest to fully regain his strength and his pastoral ministry.
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[ Homily of the Holy Father, read by HE Mons. Rino Fisichella ]
Brothers and sisters, I have the pleasure and honor of reading the homily that Pope Francis has prepared for this occasion.
As he sat to teach, Jesus "looked up, saw that a great crowd was coming to him and said to Philip:" Where can we buy bread so that these may have something to eat? "" ( Jn 6 : 5 ). Jesus does not limit himself to giving teachings, but allows himself to be questioned by the hunger that inhabits people's lives. And, in this way, he feeds the crowd by distributing the five barley loaves and the two fish received by a boy. In the end, since several pieces of bread are left over, he tells his followers to pick them up, "so that nothing is lost" (v . 12).
On this Day, dedicated to grandparents and the elderly, I would like to focus on these three moments: Jesus who sees the hunger of the crowd; Jesus sharing the bread; Jesus recommending to collect the leftover pieces. Three moments that can be summarized in three verbs: see, share , keep .
The first, see. The Evangelist John, at the beginning of the story, underlines this detail: Jesus raises his eyes and sees the hungry crowd after having walked a long time to meet him. Thus begins the miracle, with the gaze of Jesus, who is not indifferent or busy, but feels the pangs of hunger that grips tired humanity. He cares about us, he cares for us, he wants to feed our hunger for life, love and happiness. In the eyes of Jesus we see God's gaze: it is an attentive gaze, which becomes aware of us, which scrutinizes the expectations we carry in our hearts, which sees the fatigue, weariness and hope with which we go forward. A look that knows how to grasp the need of each one: in the eyes of God there is no anonymous crowd, but every person with his hunger. Jesus has a contemplative gaze,
This is also the look that grandparents and the elderly have had on our life. It is the way in which they have taken care of us since our childhood. After a life of sacrifice, they have not been indifferent to us or busy without us. They had attentive eyes, full of tenderness. When we were growing up and feeling misunderstood, or afraid of life's challenges, they noticed us, what was changing in our hearts, our hidden tears and the dreams we carried within. We all passed from the knees of the grandparents, who held us in their arms. And it is also thanks to this love that we have become adults.
And us: what gaze do we have towards grandparents and the elderly? When was the last time we kept company or phoned an elder to tell him we are close and to be blessed by his words? I suffer when I see a society that runs, busy and indifferent, taken by too many things and unable to stop to look, say hello, caress. I am afraid of a society in which we are all an anonymous crowd and are no longer able to look up and recognize each other. The grandparents, who nourished our life, today are hungry for us: for our attention, for our tenderness. To feel close to us. Let us look up at them, as Jesus does with us.
The second verb: to share . After seeing the hunger of those people, Jesus wishes to feed them. But this happens thanks to the gift of a young boy, who offers his five loaves and two fish. It is nice that at the center of this prodigy, which has benefited so many adult people - about five thousand people - there is a boy, a young man, who shares what he has.
Today there is a need for a new alliance between young and old, there is a need to share the common treasure of life, to dream together, to overcome conflicts between generations in order to prepare everyone's future. Without this alliance of life, of dreams, of the future, we risk dying of hunger, because broken ties, loneliness, selfishness, disintegrating forces increase. Often, in our societies we have given life to the idea that "everyone thinks for himself". But this kills! The Gospel exhorts us to share what we are and what we have: only in this way can we be satisfied. So many times I remembered what it says about the prophet Joel (cf. Gl3.1): young and old together. Young people, prophets of the future who do not forget the history from which they come; the elderly, never tired dreamers who transmit experience to young people, without blocking their way. Young and old, the treasure of tradition and the freshness of the Spirit. Young and old together. In society and in the Church: together.
The third verb: to keep . After they had eaten, the Gospel records that many pieces of bread were left over. And Jesus recommends: "Collect the leftover pieces, so that nothing is lost" ( Jn 6:12). So is God's heart: not only does he give us more than we need, but he also worries that nothing is lost, not even a fragment. A small piece of bread may seem like a small thing, but in God's eyes nothing should be discarded. A fortiori, no one is to be discarded. It is a prophetic invitation that today we are called to make echo in us and in the world: collect, preserve with care, preserve. Grandparents and the elderly are not leftovers from life, scraps to be thrown away. They are those precious pieces of bread left on the table of our life, which can still nourish us with a fragrance that we have lost, "the fragrance of mercy and memory". Let us not lose the memory of which the elderly are bearers, because we are children of that history and without roots we will wither. They have guarded us along the path of growth, now it is up to us to guard their life, to lighten their difficulties, to listen to their needs, to create the conditions so that they can be facilitated in their daily tasks and not feel alone. Let us ask ourselves: “Did I pay a visit to the grandparents? To the elderly in my family or neighborhood? Did I listen to them? Did I dedicate some time to them? " Let us guard them, so that nothing is lost: nothing of their life and their dreams. It is up to us today to prevent tomorrow's regret for not having paid enough attention to those who loved us and gave us life.
Brothers and sisters, grandparents and the elderly are bread that nourishes our life. We are grateful for their attentive eyes, which noticed us, for their knees that held us in their arms, for their hands that accompanied and lifted us, for the games they played with us and for the caresses with which they consoled us. Please don't forget about them. Let's ally with them. We learn to stop, to recognize them, to listen to them. Let's never discard them. Let's keep them in love. And we learn to share time with them. We will come out better. And, together, young and old, we will be satisfied at the table of sharing, blessed by God.