During the papal audience on August 10, the pilgrims who arrived in Rome were able to listen to one of the last Wednesday catechesis dedicated to the old age. The Pontiff stressed how the search for "eternal youth, unlimited wealth, absolute power" is an unrealistic pretension. He even described it as delirious.
Christians do not live only for this life, but their goal lies beyond: "On this journey we are invited, with God's grace, to go out of ourselves and to go ever further, until we reach the ultimate goal, which is the encounter with Christ".
The promise of eternal life
The Holy Father's reflection was based on the scene in the Gospel of John where Jesus pronounces the consoling promise of eternal life: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. When I am gone and have prepared a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also". And the Pope continued: "An old age that is consumed in the disconsolation of lost opportunities brings with it disconsolation for oneself and for everyone. On the other hand, old age lived with gentleness and respect for real life definitively dissolves the misunderstanding of a power that must suffice for itself and its own success".
Pope Francis has pointed out how the perspective of old age can be positive. "Our existence on earth is the moment of initiation into life, which only in God finds its fulfillment. We are imperfect from the beginning and remain imperfect until the end. In the fulfillment of God's promise, the relationship is reversed: the space of God, which Jesus carefully prepares for us, is superior to the time of our mortal life. Here it is that old age brings us closer to the hope of this fulfillment.
Old age definitely knows the meaning of time and the limitations of the place where we live our initiation. That is why it is credible when it invites us to rejoice in the passage of time: it is not a threat, it is a promise. Old age, which rediscovers the depth of the gaze of faith, is not conservative by nature, as it is said".
The role of the elderly
Throughout these months, Pope Francis has tried to show how the elderly have a very special mission both in families and in society. Today he has concretized one of the aspects in which this mission can take concrete form: "Old age is the phase of life most suitable for spreading the joyful news that life is an initiation to a definitive fulfillment. And the best is yet to come: may God grant us an old age capable of this.
In the final stretch of the audience, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in different languages. In his words in Spanish, he expressed his "closeness in a special way to those affected by the tragedy caused by the explosions and the fire in the Matanzas oil base in Cuba".