The Vatican

"It is important to follow Jesus always; on foot or in a wheelchair."

In his catechesis on Wednesday, June 22, Pope Francis encouraged older people to give way to younger people. Something, he stressed, "is not easy".

Maria José Atienza-June 22, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes
senior dads

The general audience of Wednesday, June 22, continued the series of catechesis on old age initiated, a few weeks ago, by Pope Francis. A catechesis followed attentively by hundreds of people who joined the Holy Father on this summer morning.

Taking the passage of the dialogue between the risen Jesus and Peter at the end of the Gospel of John, the Pope reflected on the witness that, in itself, contains the surrender and physical weakness of the last years of life.

In this regard, the Pope pointed out that "in the course of Jesus' discussion with Peter, we find two passages that refer precisely to old age and the length of time. The first of these "when you were young, you girded yourself and went where you wanted to go; when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, another will gird you and take you where he does not want you to go" alludes to this handing over of the witness to the younger ones and to yielding one's place.

At this point, affably, the Pope commented: "Tell me about it, I have to go in a wheelchair! But life is like that. With old age comes illness and we must accept it as it comes" and he recalled a quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola that says 'In life as in death we must bear witness as disciples of Jesus' The end of our life must be the end of the life of a disciple of Jesus. Besides, the footprint of Jesus is always ahead of us. In good or bad health. The important thing, the Pope stressed, "is to follow Jesus always, walking on foot or in a wheelchair".

Francis shared with those present how much he enjoys "talking to the people and the seniors looking into their eyes; those bright eyes, that speak to you without words, that are the testimony of a life. It is something beautiful that we must preserve.

Ceding the limelight

Another of the themes treated in this catechesis revolved around the insistence that we have, on many occasions, to know and "direct", in a certain way, the lives of others. In this regard, the Pope wanted to ask, especially older people, if they are really capable, on many occasions, of trusting younger people, of "handing over the leading role" to them.

"Walking away from the limelight of life is not easy" said the Pope FrancisThis new time is also a time of trial, certainly. Beginning with the temptation to keep our protagonism. In old age, our protagonism must be lowered.

Therefore, the Pope continued, when Peter asks Jesus about John, "Does he really have to be in 'my' sequel? Does he perhaps have to occupy 'my' space? Does he have to outlast me and take my place? Jesus' answer is frank and even harsh: 'What do you care? You, follow me. This is what Christ does with us, the Pope pointed out, "when we enter into the life of others, Jesus says to us, 'What do you care? You follow me'".

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