I have recently read an intriguing speech Pope Francis gave while with a group of young people. It was an off the cuff speech (personally my favorite) on the importance of young people connecting with the elderly…. This is a sampling from his speech:

Pope Francis urged the young not to keep the elderly “in the closet” and instead to talk with them, because inter-generational dialogue is the key to the future. Once dialogue starts, Francis said, “Young people don’t want to leave. Because from the elderly there’s wisdom, a wisdom that reaches the heart of young ones and pushes them forth.” The Pope also acknowledged that he has said similar things before, but said that he’s going to continue repeating them until they make an impact.

“Your grandparents have the wisdom, and furthermore, they have the need for you to knock on the door of their hearts to share their wisdom,”

Francis said. “That dialogue is a promise for the future, it’s what’s going to help us move forward.” (credit to CRUX.com article)

After reading this speech, I couldn’t help but think about this connection and asked myself; how do young people today connect with the elderly? At least from what I know in my age group, we tend (myself included) to have so many worries, and commitments that we leave little time to connect with relatives. Very often, intimate relationships and friendships soon may take priority over the relationships that matter the most; immediate family, our parents and grandparents. 

This reflection created an image that I haven’t really been able to get out of my mind. After we pass away, Jesus will walk us through our lives to check in to see if we served him faithfully, and if our heart was in line with Him and His priorities. I couldn’t help but think what Jesus would say to me, at this exact moment, when He turns to me, and asks me to self reflect on my relationship with my grandmother, immediate family and aunts, uncles and cousins. “William, how would you grade your own relationship with the more wise in your life?”

For those of you who are the wise, and the focus of this reflection, the same question could be posed to you. The young have so much to learn from your life; are you willing to share your experiences and lessons? Yes, we young adults need to be willing to listen, and make the opportunity to meet, but you, the wise, have worth; and your stories are of great importance. So here Jesus poses a similar question to you, “How strong and fruitful was your relationship with those who I entrusted you with? Especially the young?”

A powerful image. Take a few moments to humbly pray over this image. Or at the very least, ask Jesus to show you the ways you can grow deeper in your relationships with the elderly, or the young! For it is in these relationships that we can change the world.