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It is indeed a sad thing to encounter an elderly person who has forsaken the Law of God. Even the young in their impetuousness and rashness expect the old to always remind us of where we ought to be. Who else will show the rest of mankind the difference between our right and left hand, between what is good and what is evil. In the Mass readings for today, we encounter Eleazar, a scribe who the authorities try to tempt to forsake the covenant of the Lord. They tried to make an example of him, knowing that the young who respected his wisdom and years would follow.
But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood; and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God.
Recently I was at a place where women make that terrible decision to take the life of their own child. An elderly woman walked by and glared at me as if to say, "Shame on you." At that moment I realized that there were elderly who have deeply forsaken their vocation to reveal the law of God and the faithfulness to what is true, good, beautiful, enduring, noble, and right. She ought to have understood what was really going on there. She ought to have known better. She ought to have seen the satanic inversion of a culture that was so confused and demented as to call what is good evil and what is evil good. But she didn't. I must have said with the intense sadness and reproach of my face, "How dare you!" for the woman literally jolted at my glance and scurried away.
The elderly are called to be an icon of stability and faithfulness, bearing in their countenance the gentleness and wisdom that age gives them. Like wine each passing year ought to make them more subtle and tasteful, but ultimately they ought to reveal to the rest of mankind the development of moral conscience. When this is forsaken disgrace is not just brought upon their noble vocation, but society shows the depth of its depravity.
There is a great temptation for the elderly out of utility or taking the easiest path to not witness to their families against the evil of cohabitation, adultery, same-sex unions, embryonic stem cell research, contraceptive mentality, and abortion. If the old to not show us the way, who will?
Like Zachaeus, we find ourselves in need of making reparation for our sins and the sins of our generation. May the Living Jesus Christ in the Eucharist give us the grace and strength to respond to live the moral life generously and may the elderly be an icon of faithfulness amidst a faithless generation.