On January 31, 2021, Pope Francis announced World Day for the Grandparents and the Elderly. The Pope invites us to be celebrated each year on the fourth Sunday of July, coinciding with the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s parents and Jesus’ grandparents, Sts. Joachim and Anne.
Vittorio Scelzo, who is involved in the pastoral care of the elderly within the dicastery of the laity, family, and life, says, Pope Francis’ announcement to the celebration of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is connected to the Days established for the Word of God and for the Poor. Pope Francis says, “grandparents are often forgotten, and we forget this wealth of preserving roots and passing on.” Vittorio Scelzo said in an interview that Pope Francis wants to remind us, “young people, adults, and our society cannot save themselves without the elderly.”
This weekends reading invites us to become a humble instrument in God’s plan by sharing our gifts with our sisters and brothers. In the first reading the prophet Elisha, by invoking God’s power, fed one hundred men with twenty barley loaves. In the book of Exodus chapter 16, we read Israelite’s had turned against Moses and Aaron and God gave them “bread from heaven.” Elisha shared with hundred men the gift he received and there was food leftover. Apparently, Elisha was more powerful than his predecessors; his works extended beyond the people of Israel. Elisha relied not on what he had but on what God would do with what the Prophet had received as a gift. This miracle foreshadows the Gospel account of Jesus' miraculous feeding of five thousand and ultimately the gift of the Eucharist.
The Gospel reading is from John 6:1-15. This chapter is the foundational theology of the Eucharist. John says, “The Jewish feast of Passover was near.” The timing of this miracle around Passover, and fact that John mentions it here, implies a connection between the feeding of the five thousand, Jewish feast and its ultimate fulfillment and perfection in the institution of the Eucharist, the New Passover. There are two miracles in John involves bread (John 6:1-14) and wine (John 2:1-11). At the last Supper Jesus takes the bread and wine to bless and give thanks and gave to his disciples and said, “This is my Body” and “This is My Blood.”
John mentioned “The Passover’ three times (2:13, 6:4, 11:55). The Passover was celebrated annually in Jerusalem to commemorate the liberation of Israel from slavery (Exodus 12). When the Passover was at hand, Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish to feed the hungy. And during the Passover meal Jesus instituted the Eucharist.
In the first reading Elisha shared with the hundred men the gift he received. In the Gospel a lad shares his five loaves and two fish. What we do when we receive blessings. What is it that I am doing when I receive Holy Communion? Today we pray for deeper appreciation, a deeper reverence for the greater gift, the Eucharist.
We celebrate World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. They have great gift, gift of faith which they want to share with us all. We have to be open to receive the gift. Again, it is a call for deeper appreciation. Let us us honor our grandparents and elderly and recognize the gift they have shared with us.