ROME — Pope Francis extolled the blessings of old age in a message released Tuesday, insisting the elderly make a vital contribution to society.
In his message for the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, the pontiff said that many people are afraid of old age, considering it “a sort of disease with which any contact is best avoided.”
These people think the elderly “are none of their concern and should be set apart, perhaps in homes or places where they can be cared for, lest we have to deal with their problems,” he added.
Yet from the biblical worldview, a long life is a blessing, Francis said, and “the elderly are not outcasts to be shunned but living signs of the goodness of God who bestows life in abundance.”
“Blessed is the house where an older person lives! Blessed is the family that honors the elderly!” he stated.
Even for the elderly themselves, old age is not easily understood, he continued, and it seems to take many almost by surprise.
Yet for those who trust in God, getting older is filled with blessings, he asserted.
We “come to see that growing old is more than the natural decline of the body or the inevitable passage of time, but the gift of a long life,” he said. “Aging is not a condemnation but a blessing!”
Francis urged the elderly to take care of themselves and to remain physically and spiritually active with the passing of years.
“Old age is no time to give up and lower the sails, but a season of enduring fruitfulness,” he said, and “a new mission awaits us and bids us look to the future.”
“The World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly is an opportunity to proclaim once more, with joy, that the Church wants to celebrate together with all those whom the Lord – in the words of the Bible – has ‘filled with days.’ Let us celebrate it together!” he said.