Here you will find the address Pope Francis gave to his general audience on Wednesday, in practical translation by Vatican Radio.
The official German version will soon be published on the Vatican’s website.
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today we want to talk about Judith, a biblical heroine. The conclusion of the book that bears her name – we heard a paragraph from it – summarizes the last part of the life of this woman who defended Israel against its enemies. Judith, a virtuous young Jewish widow, who, thanks to her faith, beauty and wisdom, saves the city of Betulia and the Jewish people from the siege of Holofernes. He was a leader of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Assyria, a compelling and struggling enemy. Such is the case, and in her cunning way of acting, she is able to kill the dictator who is hostile to her country. She was brave, this woman, but she had faith…
After her remarkable adventure, Judith returns to her hometown of Bethulia, where she lives to her old age, as many people do: sometimes after an intense working life, sometimes after a life full of adventure or a life of dedication. Heroism is not only found in the great events of the spotlight, such as the judas who cut a dictator’s throat: heroism is often found in the persistence of love shown to a troubled family and a threatened society.
Judith lived to be over 100 years old, which is a special blessing. But it is not uncommon today to live many years after retirement. How do we classify the time we have and how can we best use it? (…)
For many, entering retirement comes with a long-awaited respite from strenuous and tiring activities. But there are also times when the end of work is a source of anxiety and waiting for it with some trepidation: “What am I going to do now that my life is free from everything that filled it for so long?” this is the question. Daily work also means a set of relationships; satisfaction of earning a living; role playing experience; deserved recognition; A full time job that goes beyond pure work hours.
Certainly there is an obligation, exhilarating and stressful to take care of grandchildren, and today grandparents have an important role in the family in raising grandchildren. But we know that fewer and fewer children are being born today and that parents are often far away, have to travel more and have unfavorable working and living conditions. They are also sometimes more reluctant to entrust their grandparents with raising their children, only giving them the time to take care of the children. But someone said to me with a sarcastic smile: “Today, in this socio-economic situation, grandparents are more important because they have a pension …” (…) There are new requirements, also in the field of relations with teachers and parents, which necessitate a re-formation of the alliance intergenerational tradition.
But, we ask ourselves, are we doing these “transformation” efforts? Or are we simply suffering from the stagnation of material and economic conditions? The coexistence of generations, in fact, lengthens. Shall we try together to make them more humane, loving and just in the new conditions of modern societies? For grandparents, helping to raise their children is an important part of their vocation. Young children learn the power of tenderness and respect for fragility: irreplaceable lessons that are easy to pass on and receive from grandparents. For their part, grandparents learn that tenderness and fragility are not just signs of decay: for young people, they are steps that humanize the future.
Judith was widowed early and had no children, but as an older woman she was able to experience a time of fullness and serenity knowing that she had fully fulfilled the task entrusted to her by the Lord. It is time for them to leave the good legacy of wisdom, tenderness, and gifts to family and society: the legacy of good, not mere benevolence. (…)
Judith gives her favorite maid her freedom, especially in old age. This is a sign of the vigilant and humane look of those who were close to her. (…]As an old person one loses a little sight, but one’s inner gaze becomes more penetrating. One sees with one’s heart. You become able to see the things that previously escaped you. (…) It is true: The Lord does not trust only His gifts On the Young and the Mighty: He has talents for all, designed for all, including the elderly. The life of our societies must be able to harness the talent and charisma of the many seniors who are already retired but represent a fortune to be harnessed. This requires the creative and renewed interest and generous availability of our seniors. Themselves Previous skills for active life lose their role of restriction and become resources of transmission: teaching, counselling, building, caring, listening…preferably to the benefit of the most disadvantaged, those who cannot study or who are left alone.
Judith freed her servant and gave everyone’s attention. As a young girl, her bravery earned her the respect of society. At her age, she acquired a tenderness that extended her freedom and affection. Judith is not retired and lives her emptiness in grief: she is a passionate old woman who fills the time God gave her with gifts. I beg you, one day, to pick up the Bible and the Book of Judith: it’s small, read… It’s ten pages, no more. Read this story about a brave woman who ends up like this, with tenderness and generosity, a woman at the top. And I want all our grandmothers to be like this: brave, wise, and they leave us as an inheritance not money, but the inheritance of wisdom that was sown in their grandchildren. Thanks.