By Junno Arocho Esteves
VATICAN CITY — The passing of time in one’s life is meant to be lived as a God-given grace and not a meaningless pursuit to preserve one’s youthfulness, Pope Francis said.
Men and women are “apprentices of life” who amid trials and tribulations “learn to appreciate God’s gift, honoring the responsibility of sharing it and making it bear fruit for everyone,” the pope said Aug. 10 during his weekly general audience.
“The conceit of stopping time — of wanting eternal youth, unlimited well-being, absolute power — is not only impossible, it is delusional,” he said.
The pope continued his series of talks on old age and reflected on Jesus’ farewell to his disciples during the Last Supper, in which he promised to “prepare a place” for them.
The time of life that remains for the disciples, the pope said, mirrors that of old age, which is “the fitting time for the moving and joyful witness of expectation” for one’s true destination: “a place at the table with God, in the world of God.”
Old age, he continued, should not be lived “in the dejection of missed opportunities” but in seeing that “the time of aging that God grants us is already in itself” one of God’s great works.
“Our life is not made to be wrapped up in itself, in an imaginary earthly perfection,” the pope said. “It is destined to go beyond, through the passage of death — because death is a passage. Indeed, our stable place, our destination is not here, it is beside the Lord, where he dwells forever.”
True fulfillment in one’s life, he added, can only be found in God, and “old age brings closer the hope of this fulfillment.”
Old age, the pope said, departing from his prepared remarks, does not need to beautify itself to show its nobility. Instead, it serves as a reminder of one’s mortality and is an invitation “to rejoice in the passing of time” which “is not a threat, it is a promise,” the pope said.
Pope Francis encouraged Christians, especially the elderly, to live their final years of life “in the expectation of the Lord” because in old age, Jesus’ promise becomes “transparent, projecting toward the Holy City of which the Book of Revelation speaks.”
“The elderly are a promise, a witness of promise,” the pope said. “And the best is yet to come. The best is yet to come. It is like the message of elderly believers: the best is yet to come. May God grant us all an old age capable of this!”