Sunday, September 28, 2014, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Square, followed by a special meeting with the elderly. Attendees included thousands of grandparents, elderly and religious life who participated in this encounter, and among them was also a special guest, Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Reflecting towards what Pope Francis said towards the elderly, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me. Currently I am in Florida, and have been for the past 2 weeks now, taking care of my grandpa who suffered from two strokes, and who had lost most of his strength on his right side. He had become very weak up to the point where doctors doubted he would ever be the same again. Praise God, Who always has the final word, as lately my grandfather has been responding really well to his therapy. Even though we are not out of the woods yet, we are talking about a man who the doctors sent home to die because they had no other options for him, and who now is walking. First lesson: God always has the final word.
However, I wanted to share something I personally encountered during this time while taking care of my recovering grandfather. Upon my fixing the broken dryer one day, my grandma said to me, “Mijo, tus manos son un regalo de Dios para arreglar las cosas.” Translated in english as, “Your hands are a gift from God to fix things.” Previously, I had fixed their camcorder, dryer, a remote that was broken from a radio, the DVD player, computer, even the neighbor’s toilet, amongst other things! A majority of these things were all so simple for me to fix, some of them required researching on the internet articles and a couple of youtube videos. Yet, after researching the issues, I was able to repair them.
What caught my attention was a comment from my grandma after I was finished. She said, “Most of these problems, we have had for years.” The camcorder, for example, had been collecting dust in the closet for the past 3 years, and the DVD player had not played a DVD for the past 2 years, and the remote control was out of order for the past couple of months, and so forth.
Suddenly, I had a realization this was like my relationship with God.
For my grandparents, these problems were huge. Without repair, these items would all have been discarded, and they would have had to purchase new ones. I figured, “Why not let me take a look at it, and see what I can do.”
The DVD Player was simply connected incorrectly. Fixed.
The remote just needed a battery replacement. Fixed.
The dryer was a little more complicated, since it required a new part, and some research after I obtained the part. Yet, I taught myself how to install this part after a couple of youtube videos, and afterwards, the dryer was fixed.
A majority of the issues were all so simple to me, and all it took was for my grandma to put her problems in the right hands in order to get them fixed. I’m not tooting my own horn here, but I was the right guy for the job. I’m not perfect and I can’t fix everything, but there is a man that can and His name is Jesus! Clearly I’m not talking about taking your computers and dryers to your closest Church. But spiritually and physically speaking, Jesus, can do so much more for you!
“Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.” --Matthew 9:35
Our problems, the things we struggle with the most, the things we believe have no remedy: lost hope, regrets, abandoned dreams, our sins we carry, family, friends, and the stories we hear on a daily basis. What do we do? Do we put them away, store them in the closet of our hearts as my grandma did, and give up on them, abandon what is now broken and what we believe is beyond repair? Have we given up and accepted defeat? Or have we given our problems to Jesus? Into the only hands that will bring peace to our situation, and victory over the things that trouble us. I can only fix dryers, but Jesus can fix the dryness of our hearts.
Jesus came for our salvation and for our good. The New Testament is filled with the witness of His great miracles He performed while down here on earth. The lesson to learn from all of this is that nothing can ever be too broken, hopeless and without remedy in the loving hands of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Take time to reflect today, and see in whose hands are you placing all of your current problems?
Pope Francis, upon meeting and greeting the elderly Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI with a hug, went on to say, "I'm especially grateful for the presence of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I have said many times, I am so happy that he lives here at the Vatican, because it is like having the wise grandfather at home. Thank you”.
Taking wisdom from our respectable ‘wise grandfather at home,’ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said at his final General Audience of his pontificate in St Peter's Square, “I would like everyone to feel loved by the God, who gave His Son for us and showed us His boundless love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being Christian.”
Reflecting on this, Lord, I pray for whoever is reading this message. May You heal the dryness of their hearts, and replenish it with the abundance of Your love. Any difficulties, troubles or problems they may face tomorrow, give them strength. Bring back that joy and peace that only You can bring back into their lives and send Your Spirit upon them as a guide to help them and their family through even the darkest of moments that may come. Shine Your light upon them and through them, oh Lord, so that they may become a witness to Your true and endless love. Holy Mary, comfort the sorrowful, pray for God’s people, and may all who seek your help experience your unfailing protection. Amen.
In conclusion, always remember to treat the elderly with respect and take care of them in any way you can. Do so with the love that God gifts and He calls us too. No matter what the situation may be with their condition, age etc., when you allow yourself to take time in your day to listen to them, it is a gift to both you and the elderly. For those of us who are fortunate enough to still have our grandparents, or parents, aunts, or uncles, enjoy them. Don't allow a day to go by without telling them that you love them and appreciate everything they have done for you in the past. Take care of them now, more than ever. Even though they are at an older age, play music for them, talk to them, listen to them, take them out for walks, pray for them, and enjoy this precious gift of time God has given us to share. Thank you and God bless.