Sunday Homily of July 24th, 2022
Today, July 24, the Church celebrates the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. After being established by Pope Francis in January 2021, the observance is celebrated each year on the fourth Sunday of July, commemorating also the feasts of Sts. Joachim and Anne the parents of Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandparents of Jesus.
The goodness of the Lord is a mystery for most of us. Often times we are paying too much attention for success in life that we forget about the presence of God’s goodness also in our failures or during the difficult times of our lives. Often times we need to be reminded again and again that the God’s loving hand is revealed through a different form during our downfalls. Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel reading: “What father among you would hand his son a snake when ask for a fish? Or, hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then who are wicked know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” The most wicked person among us, whom we may consider as the culprit for every negative experience in our families and in our societies, even they still have that inclination to give the better things for his/her children. And this fact is already enough to reveal to us the willingness of the Father in heaven to provide us, the children of God, with heavenly goodness. This is the basic trust that we need to build in our lives as children of God: that no matter how difficult it is to find the goodness of God in our society today, it is still there! It is waiting for us to capture it with our own hearts. Thus, we need to be active not only physically but also spiritually to be aware of God’s goodness in the realities of our lives.
In 18 December 2017, Pope Francis made a dialogue through video conference with the students and faculties of Sophia University. One of the question addressed to him by one of the students was “What is your hopes and concerns for the youth today?” The Pope replied “Young people shall not be too comfortable to stay still. Stay active, respect your roots, stay optimistic and make challenges, (that) is my hope. However young (they are) people own the energy to move forward with the (Spirit). I feel it is my concern that, due to such a nature, histories and roots are neglected by them time to time. The root includes your culture, histories, family and humanity. … Please know if (you do not have) roots then there is nothing to support (your) identities. Communicate with (your) elderlies since you will most likely find them with roots.”
By saying this, Pope Francis wants to remind us that in order to build that sensitivity in our hearts to perceive God’s invisible grace, first we need to build our own rootedness in our families. We need to learn from our elderlies because they have the experience of interacting with life difficulties just to find the grace of God; just so that they can embrace the goodness of the Lord behind those difficult moments in life.
Psalm 92:15 says that "In old age they will still bear fruit". Our elderlies will still have something to offer us. It may seem that they are the ones who are depending on the younger generation. This may be true physically. But spiritually, it is the younger generation who will find a lot of fruits waiting to be harvest from the elderlies. As the younger generation, we always need a strong base to create new experience, new innovation. But this does not mean that we need to throw away the experience of the elderlies. They will provide our new innovations in life with the wisdom they found from their own struggles and hardships they have endured. Let us honor our elderlies as the source of wisdom from God for our society. Let us treat them respectfully as the answer from God given to us for our prayers.
By Fr. Antonius Firmansyah, SJ