World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Earlier this year, Pope Francis and the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life established the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Today is the first acknowledgement of the day and has the theme, “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20).
The day immediately precedes the Feast of Saints Anne and Joachim, traditionally seen as the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the grandparents of Jesus.
The Vatican explained that this theme expresses the closeness of the Lord and the Church to older persons, especially in the challenging times of the pandemic. The Vatican expressed the hope that the day would foster a spirit of closeness and hope that young and old can mutually share.
“Not only are grandchildren and youths invited to be present in the lives of older people, but older people and grandparents also have a mission of evangelization, proclamation and prayer, and of encouraging young people in their faith.”
So often this year, I have heard grandparents lament the fact that they were unable to hug their grandchildren or to even get too physically close. Such intimacy is crucial for both the young and the elderly. There are times when parents are too busy, too caught up with their own issues, or are being careful to not spoil or show favouritism.
There are also situations of tension in the immediate family. It becomes important for young people to have the love, affection, understanding heart, and the guidance of their grandparents and other elders. And if grandparents spoil a little, what harm is that!
We hear a great deal from today’s scripture readings about feeding people, recognizing that there will always be leftovers. Our grandparents often play that role of feeding us, sometimes with real food and sometimes with food for our hearts and souls. There are times when they dote on the young, offering them things that their parents are unable to give.
That doting – whether with love or food – is a recollection that can last a person a lifetime. Most of us probably recognize the love of God because we have experienced it from others, such as our elders.There are many little acts of love that can be encouraged on this day. A good place to start is by praying as a family.
PRAYER FOR THE FIRST WORLD DAY FOR GRANDPARENTS AND THE ELDERLY
I thank You, Lord,
for the comfort of Your presence:
even in times of loneliness,
You are my hope and my confidence,
You have been my rock and my fortress since my youth!
I thank You for having given me a family
and for having blessed me with a long life.
I thank You for moments of joy and difficulty,
for the dreams that have already come true in my life and for those that are still ahead of me.
I thank You for this time of renewed fruitfulness to which You call me.
Increase, O Lord, my faith,
make me a channel of your peace,
teach me to embrace those who suffer more than me, to never stop dreaming
and to tell of your wonders to new generations.
Protect and guide Pope Francis and the Church,
that the light of the Gospel might reach the ends of the earth. Send Your Spirit, O Lord, to renew the world,
that the storm of the pandemic might be calmed,
the poor consoled and wars ended.
Sustain me in weakness
and help me to live life to the full
in each moment that You give me,
in the certainty that you are with me every day, even until the end of the age.