Builders of a young world
The sons of Eli, the priest of the Lord at Shiloh, were depraved and did not pay any attention to the calls of the father (1 S 2:12). One day a man of God appeared to Eli who told him: “In your household, no one will live to a ripe old age” (1 S 2:32). It was not the promise that his descendants would be freed from the hassles related to the care of elderly and sick people, but the announcement of a terrible calamity. Educators of new generations, the guardians of the sacred traditions, the leaders the transmission of the faith would be forever missed. His grandchildren would never have experienced the commotion of the psalmist who exclaimed, “With our ears, O God, we have heard: our ancestors have declared to us the works you did in their days” (Ps 44:1-2).
In Israel, there was the commandment “Honor your father and mother”, however, the formation of new generations was often marked by tension and conflict. There were spoiled, arrogant and judicious young people (1 K 12:8). There were wise old men who watched, with serenity and trust, beyond the narrow horizons of their time. There were also dull old people who fought for a nostalgic return to the past, trying in every way to curb the impulses toward the future.
The prophets indicate that generational reconciliation is the sign of the advent of the Messianic era. The Old Testament closes with the announcement of the return of Elijah who will reconcile parents with their children and children with their parents (Mal 3:24). The New Testament opens with the words of the angel to Zechariah: “Elizabeth will bear you a son; he will be great in the eyes of the Lord; he will reconcile fathers and children” (Lk 1:13-17).
In families where there is no elderly person, life can, at times, be easier, but it is certainly the poorest of humanity.
To internalize the message, we repeat:
“Even when my strength lessens, my heart will remain young.”