Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family today, I would like to invite you to reflect on family values. Often we think about parents and children, but grandparents are also part of our families. I read the other day a homily from Pope Francis back in 2013, which he “denounced a cultural tendency to discard the elderly because they are a bother.” Here is the summary of the homily.
Pope Francis said that as a child, he heard a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s illness, would drop food on the dining table, and smear it all over his face when he ate. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, one day he bought a table and set it off to the side of the dining room so the grandfather could eat, make a mess and not disturb the rest of the family. One day, the Pope said, the grandfather’s son came home and found one of his sons playing and asked “What are you making?” “A table,” the son replies. “Why?” the father asks. “It’s for you, Dad, when you get old like grandpa, I am going to give you this table.” Ever since that day, the grandpa was given a prominent seat at the dining table and all the help he needed in eating by his son and daughter -in-law. “This story has done me such good throughout my life,” said the Pope. “Grandparents are a treasure,” he said. “Often old age isn’t pretty, right? There is sickness and all that, but the wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheritance.” A society or community that does not value, respect and care for its elderly members “doesn’t have a future because it has no memory, it’s lost its memory,” Pope Francis added.
I would also add that there is an element of gratefulness for what they did for us and our parents. They generously opened themselves to life giving birth and raising our parents. They also watched, helped and prayed for us as we were being raised as well.
When I watch the elderly taking care of their grandchildren, it’s the most beautiful sight. They are happy to change diapers, bring them to the mall, amusement parks, calling on birthdays, and anything else that would bring a smile to those little faces. As our grandparents grow older, the least we could do is the same. Visit them, take them out for a ride, help them, talk to them, (clean them), love them, pray for them, and do anything else that would bring a smile to their faces.
Finally, remember that when we fail to do what is right in front of God, we cannot complain if our children or family turn out to be disobedient to God and to us. I read a reflection that “the young learn more from example than from precept. If parents give their children the example of a life of obedience to the laws of God and their country, the children will in turn carry out their duties to God, to their parents and to their fellowman.
Let’s ask God through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Saints Joaquin and Ann, that we may always be good children of God, but loving him and our neighbors as he loved us.
Father Steven Clemence