Nigerian elders have been tasked to shun youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. The admonition was given by Rev.Fr. George Ehusani, while delivering his homily on the occasion of the 70th Birthday Celebration of Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, on October 25, 2021 According to Fr. Ehusani, “The same admonition is captured in the Desiderata, where the author Max Ehrmann calls on us older people, to ’Take kindly the counsel of age, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.’ The book of Ecclesiastes has a rich, heavily poetic reflection on old age, which we all need to study. I ask you all to please find time to read Ecclesiastes 12:1-8.” While noting that modern society appears to have negative attitude towards old age and old people, because they are no longer beautiful, strong, useful, and productive in the narrow, materialistic, and exterior sense, the priest said that the Judeo-Christian religion sees old age as a grace, a great blessing that not everyone is privileged to attain.
” Those who attain old age are to embrace it with utmost gratitude, and see that there are many positive dividends even in the diminishment and vulnerability of the aged. Yes, from a biblical point of view, old age is not something to be ashamed of at all. It is not something to resist, to dread or to fear. It is not something to simply tolerate. No, from a biblical point of view, the golden years that we call old age are often the crown of life, the crown of sacred blessings, and the crown of substantial rejoicing. Old age is not a time to be grumpy or an excuse to do nothing, but simply wait for death. Those who are granted the grace of many years have the opportunity not only to appreciate the beauty of God’s greatest gift of life, but also to understand the fragility of the human spirit. ” God has his mysterious purposes for allowing us to be born in a weak, vulnerable and fragile state, to grow to be healthy and strong in the prime of life, and then, if we are so privileged, to advance into old age, during which stage we gradually diminish in physical strength and agility, in outward beauty and splendor, in mental or cognitive attention, and eventually to expire, as far as our fleshy mortal existence is concerned.
Christians who are granted the many years of life have the marvelous chance as they slow down on the affairs of the turbulent world, to deepen their awareness of the mystery of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” Fr. Ehusani noted that as people slow down and can no longer run around in pursuit of money, pleasure and power, old age may be the most spiritually fruitful period of life when they can constantly place their souls and the souls of their loved ones before the mercy and tenderness of God. ” Since we often live our lives forward, but learn the lessons backwards, old age may be the most opportune time to appreciate God’s gentle, loving, merciful, guiding hand, through the course of our entire lives. And indeed, old age should be the time to constantly pray for a serene passage to the next life. ”There is a purpose for the aging process, with its many debilities and diminishments, which become a prelude to the inevitable reality of death. We are told in Job 1:21 that naked we came into this world, and naked we shall return.
No one can return to God in strength, power, vigor, splendor, and as it were on springs! Not at all. We shall all return to God empty and naked, with the full manifestation of our embarrassingly miserable mortality. Even when we fool ourselves into thinking and acting as if some deaths are more glorious that others, we only revel in self-deception. Yes, even when we import golden caskets for our beloved one, even when we install air conditioners in the grave, or when we bury them in a Hummer Jeep or Lamborghini, we often realise it somewhere in our consciousness that we are only deceiving ourselves, for as we read in Psalm 49:20, the richest and the greatest of men, lacking understanding, will die just like the animal that perishes. ” He urged Dr. Dokpesi to make a deliberate choice to begin to slow down now and consciously embark on the rather humbling, but prudential process of disengagement from a life devoted to achieving more, towards a new life devoted to simply being more, as he marks his 70th birthday. ”As we celebrate once again in thanksgiving today your very colourful ride through life, and your incredible achievements, I will repeat my admonition to you ten years ago, which I don’t think you acted upon, namely: to slow down and make sufficient time for wholesome reflection on the fundamental question of life’s ultimate meaning and purpose, and for pondering over the perplexing reality or the distressful mystery of death – the death that stares each one of us in the face, and which often makes nonsense of much of our human ambitions and preoccupations as well as our attachments and achievements. ”