The Vatican

Pope Francis: "The spirit of service is not only for women".

Pope Francis continued his catechesis on old age by reflecting on the Gospel passage of the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. He encouraged men and women to renew their spirit of service for the elderly, especially grandparents. 

Javier Garcia-June 15, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes

Photo: Pope Francis does not hide the limitations of his old age. This photo is from the audience two weeks ago. © CNS/Paul Haring

Roman audiences are no longer springtime, but rather summertime. 30º at 10 o'clock in the morning. The arrival of the vacations is noticeable, as there were more foreigners than usual, especially young people from school groups. 

In his catecheses on old age, since last February the Pope has not ceased to emphasize that the care of the elderly is a matter for everyone. This includes men and women alike. "We have to understand well that the spirit of intercession and service, which Jesus prescribes to all his disciples, is not simply a woman's thing: in the words and gestures of Jesus there is no trace of this limitation. The evangelical service of gratitude for God's tenderness is by no means written in the grammar of the male master and the female servant. However, this does not mean that women, on gratitude and on the tenderness of faith, can teach men things that are more difficult for them to understand".

Imitations of old age

The Pope broke down these ideas based on the text of the GospelMark writes that "Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever". We do not know if it was a minor illness, but in old age even a simple fever can be dangerous. When you are old, you are no longer in charge of your body. You have to learn to choose what to do and what not to do. The vigor of the body fails and abandons us, although our heart does not cease to desire. That is why it is necessary to learn to purify desire: to be patient, to choose what to ask of the body, of life".

Knowing firsthand the physical limitations of old age, the pontiff pointed out that "the illness of the elderly seems to hasten death and in any case to shorten that time of life that we already consider brief. It insinuates the doubt that we will never recover, that this will be the last time I get sick".

Jesus visited Peter's mother-in-law in the company of the apostles. And this detail has been underlined by the Pope to insist that it is "the Christian community that must take care of the elderly: relatives and friends. Visiting the elderly must be done by many, together and often. We must never forget these three lines of the Gospel. Especially today, when the number of the elderly has grown considerably. We must feel the responsibility to visit the elderly who are often alone and to present them to the Lord with our prayer".

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