In his General Audience, the Pope reflected on a conversation between the Risen Jesus and St. Peter, in which Jesus tells him: “when you grow old, another will take you where you would not go.”
Pope Francis discussed this message as an example of how old age can be “a time of renewed love for the Lord, hope in his promises, and growth in spiritual wisdom.”
For this reason, the Pope says, old age may be a “a fruitful season of contemplation, gratitude and witness to the grace of God constantly at work in our lives and in the world around us.”
SUMMARY OF THE POPE’S CATECHESIS IN ENGLISH:
Dear brothers and sister
In our continuing catechesis on the meaning and value of old age in the light of God’s word, we now consider the words of the Risen Jesus to Peter at the Lake of Tiberias (Jn 21:17-18).
Peter reaffirms his love for Christ and receives the command to feed the Lord’s sheep. Jesus adds, with a reference to Peter’s eventual martyrdom: “When you were younger, you used to go wherever you wished; but when you grow old, another will take you where you would not go.”
These words have a particular meaning for the elderly, since the passing of the years naturally entails physical frailty and heightened dependence on others. At the same time, however, old age can be a time of renewed love for the Lord, hope in his promises, and growth in spiritual wisdom.
Jesus goes on to tell Peter not to concern himself with John, the younger disciple, but with persevering in fidelity to his own calling and mission. His words remind us of the need, in life’s later years, to make room for the younger generations and to respect their place in the unfolding of the Lord’s saving plan.
For Christ’s disciples, old age can thus be a fruitful season of contemplation, gratitude and witness to the grace of God constantly at work in our lives and in the world around us.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from Malta and the United States of America. I offer a special greeting to the many student groups present. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus.
Christ. God bless you!