Sunday July 25th 2021, we celebrate the first ever World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Inaugurated by Pope Francis, it affords us the opportunity to reflect on the unique importance of Grandparents and the Elderly in our lives and to reach out to them in love.
I was fortunate enough to live for the early years of my life with my grandmother on my father’s side – we called her Mammy D. Having lost her husband (my paternal grandfather whom I never knew) just before I was born, she was a constant caring, formative presence until her death just before my twelfth birthday. On my mother’s side – my grandfather died shortly after I entered seminary. We were fortunate to have maternal grandmother with us for many years afterwards. Happily, she was with us to celebrate my ordination as a priest. Many of us have memories of Grandparents who have gone home to God while many are still fortunate to have grandparents present in their own lives or in the lives of their children.
Today, in particular, we thank grandparents for the example of how much their Christian Faith means to them. We thank them for their prayers for us in good times and bad. In his message to grandparents for this special day, Pope Francis is thinking of you when he writes: “It makes no difference how old you are, whether you still work or not, whether you are alone or have a family, whether you became a grandmother or grandfather at a young age or later, whether you are still independent or need assistance. Because there is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren.” (Pope Francis, Message for World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, 2021)
What a gift grandparents are! Today, to all grandparents and the elderly we say thank you for being you. Thank you for being part of our lives. Thank you for the example, knowledge and wisdom you share with us. Thank you for your memories. Thank you for connecting us with our history. Thank you for your funny times and thank you for those times when we know you need our help and care. To you, today we send the biggest hug we can and our fervent prayers and blessings.
Let us remember, especially grandparents and the elderly who are frail or ill at this time. May the Lord, strengthen them in their frailty and be with them in their illness. Let us reach out in prayer to grandparents and the elderly who live alone or are lonely, those who are recently bereaved, those who are worried or troubled in any way. May the Lord console them and strengthen their hope in his goodness. Amen.