Lord of all ages
I was once asked by a secondary school class, ‘What use is Jesus to people over the age of 32?’ They were probing a serious area of concern about the role of Jesus in providing an example to the elderly. Some people think this is a problem as Jesus died at such a young age. How is Jesus Lord of all ages?
There are two major areas of spiritual reflection I share with those of a more mature age. The first is coping with the experience of a loss of independence. This can be brought on by a loss of physical mobility, it can be the result of becoming a carer, and it can also be a consequence of the changed financial circumstances of the different stages of retirement. There are, I am sure, a number of readers of this magazine, who for various reasons find themselves housebound.
Call to prayer
Although Jesus did not experience the dependency that can come with age he did experience the loss of freedom and the sense of helplessness that was a part of his passion and death. Many Christian people, who find themselves dependent on others, are very close to the Lord in his suffering. (This is surely one of the reasons the late John Paul was such a powerful witness to the Lord in his last years.) By this means individuals find themselves in communion with the Lord, not by doing but by being.
It is often the case that in these situations individuals find themselves experiencing a clear call to pray for the world in its brokenness. It is a source of great blessing to have in the midst of the parish community individuals who keep watch and pray with the Lord – often by day and by night. Where they are known they should be encouraged and kept informed of concerns and needs for prayer. They can find that they are blessed in the praying.
The other area of concern is the sense of feeling ‘at the end of something’. There is a loss of a sense of expectation that was part of earlier stages in life. I was greatly helped recently by a priest in his seventies who shared his wisdom with me about this ‘loss of future’. He pointed out that in the Venite the Lord says, ‘Today, if ye will hear his voice!’
The vocation of all Christians is to live in the moment and seek Christ as the ‘daily bread’. The Word of God is living and active and is at work in people of all ages, revealing truth and purpose outside time. The lesson from all this is that whatever else is lost with age engagement with Scripture should be one of the ‘last things’.
There are a few holy souls I have known who have come to a stage of finding worship irrelevant to them. One said, ‘All I need is silence,’ another said, ‘All I want to say is ‘Thou art God’.’ The bother of getting there and the rigmarole of getting along with others is a distraction not an aid to communion; ‘too much noise, too many people’. My word to them has always been, ‘We need you, your presence among us is an inspiration and a comfort – do not forget you are part of his earthly body until he calls you home.’