Sunday, July 23, 2023, marks World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, instituted the annual celebration in honour of the elderly. We hereby urge all parishes to celebrate the elderly persons in their respective parishes. Unique attention should be given to the elderly ones on this day with a special sitting arrangement made for them and possibly some entertainment arranged after Mass such that the adults, youths and children would show them love and appreciation.
Parishes should explore how to create an all-encompassing event that will accord grandparents and the elderly to share their wisdom about growing up, career life, courting, marriage, and family with youth. Youths should also be given opportunities to speak about their hopes for their future and what challenges face them as they cope with everyday life, especially as regards career and marriage. Scriptural readings buttress the role of grandparents.
In Deuteronomy 4:9, God said to grandparents: “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and their children after them” The Bible severally emphasises the importance of grandparents. It is vital that grandparents be involved in the lives of their grandchildren and youngsters. But lately, some grandparents seem to spend their golden years in retirement, leisure, and self‐indulgence. This segment of the elderly ones does not have time for their grandchildren. They have put their teaching days behind them. Or, they see themselves as offering free babysitting service. According to them, “Our job is to spoil the grandkids.
Then we send them back to their parents. We show up at birthday parties, but that’s about it.” But this is contrary to God’s‐given responsibility of grandparents and the elderly to make a significant difference in the lives of their grandchildren. Grandchildren will listen to their grandparents when they will not listen to anyone else. Psalm 71: 17-18 further indicates the importance of grandparents. This verse states, “Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” But this scriptural text focuses directly to grand parenting.
In most cases, when the Bible speaks of the “next generation,” it is referring to our immediate families. “All who are to come” references our children’s children, namely our grandchildren as well as our great-grandchildren. Pope Francis while instituting the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, said “Grandparents are the ring linking generations, to transmit to young people the experience of life and faith.” Happy World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly!
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins is the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.