Pope Francis presided over the Mass that ended the "Blessing of a Long Life” meeting. It was the first time that grandparents and the elderly met with the Pope in St. Peter's Square.
In his homily, Pope Francis made reference to the Gospel passage in which the young Virgin Mary visits her cousin Saint Elizabeth, who was elderly.
The Pope reflected on the importance of the bond that exists between the youth and the elderly.
"But, if this encounter is not recuperated, if this balance is not found again, which is fruitful between the generations, it becomes a great poverty for the people, and the freedom that prevails in society is a false freedom, which almost always transforms into authoritarianism.”
The Pope explained that the Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and Zechariah to listen to the wisdom of two elderly people who were "experts on God and on hope”, which is something that the world needs in this time.
"Thus the Virgin Mary shows us the way: the way of encounter between youth and the elderly. The future of a people relies greatly on this meeting: the youth give the strength to make the people go forward and the elderly strengthen this power with their memory and wisdom.”
An estimated 40,000 grandparents and elderly people from 20 countries attended the meeting at St. Peter's Square. As a gift to remember the day, the Pope gave them signed copies of the Gospel of St. Mark. The Gospels were in large print for those with vision problems.