Word for the ady by Christian Education Forum

Accepting of the Elderly

1 Timothy 5:1-10

Tina Joji (Kochamma)

St. Johns MTC, NY
If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. 

Paul’s 1st letter to Timothy is considered one of his Pastoral Epistles to strengthen the life of the church and avoid ecclesiastical and dogmatic confusions. Here, Paul’s principal preoccupation is to dictate how to organize the church. Timothy was given the responsibility as supervisor of the church. In chapter 5 Paul gives special advice to honor elders and widows. In New Testament times, widows were employed in the church to tend the sick and the aged, under the direction of the deacons. The elderly were an important group within the early church. In the present time, profit-oriented societies make elders an unwanted part of society.

1. Family: The space of acceptance.         

Here, advice is given to children to care for their widowed mothers. Everyone in the family has their own responsibilities. Included in these responsibilities is the fundamental duty of children to look after their parents in their old age. They have to look after them to the best of their ability. In verse 5, taking care of parents is equated with a spiritual exercise which is pleasing to God. In verse 8, Paul says that “And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Thus, the family was expected to be the caretakers of the elderly.

In America, most nursing homes are full. Millions of elderly people only have their televisions to keep them company. Jesus criticized the hypocrisy of the so-called spiritual people who avoided their obligation to their parents by saying “whatever I have that would help you has been given to God.” (Mat 15:5-6) Jesus says that “and by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition”. Parents who devote their lives to their children should not be ignored. Proverbs 15:20 says “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother.” 

2. Church: A caring Community

According to Acts 6:1 we can see that the early church provided a prominent place for the elderly widows. Church was the refuge for many elders who were treated as the least in society. Our church should be a caring community. We are called to create a community which makes use of the countless resources of the elderly. We should respect, honor and love the elderly. Church should be a home for all.

Many churches today ignore the needs of seniors in favor of the younger generation arguing that the younger generation is the “future of the church.” The value of experience of the elderly is seldom counted; monetary profit becomes the sole concern. Pope Francis says, “a population that does not take care of the elderly and of children … has no future because it abuses both its memory and its promise.” We should remember the covenant given to the Old Testament community in Leviticus 19:32, “You shall rise up before the gray-headed and honor the aged, and you shall admire your God; I am the LORD.”

According to the Census, the elderly population increased to 40.3 million in 2010, and it is expected that by 2030 the number will rise to 72.1 million. Both family members and the church have a role in strengthening the growing elderly community. We should accept and respect all people regardless of their physical or mental capabilities. “Respect the elderly when you are young, help the weak when you are strong…because one day you will grow old, become weak and expect others to show you some respect.” 

Prayer: Lord, help us to honor our elders as they deserve. Master, strengthen our parents to lead the younger generation to your kingdom. Amen.  

Thought for the day: “A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise"- Pope Francis 

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