31st Saturday in Ordinary Time
So, where do older people find “the strength for everything”, as St Paul calls it in the first reading? He says “my God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”, and yet Christ did not personally experience the disabilities of growing old as we do. Instead, he taught us from the cross when he looked at her who was standing at the foot of the cross and said to his disciples, “Behold your mother”.
Then, what did Mary do after her Son’s mission on earth had been accomplished? St Luke tells us that there were a group of them in the Upper Room, “who gave themselves up to prayer, together with Mary, the mother of Jesus”. We are not told how long it was before she was assumed into heaven, but Mary did live, if not to be an old woman, at least to be well past the prime of life.
And one of the disabilities of advancing years is the feeling that you are no longer indispensable as you used to be. Mary still had a life to live between Pentecost and her Assumption, and St Luke tells us all that we need to know about this stage of her life: she “gave herself up to prayer”, prayer coming from an immaculate (that is to say, pure) heart.
The question for us is whether, and how gracefully, the transition will be accomplished in our own lives, when we slow down and can no longer do the things we used to do when we were young. It won’t be easy, but it won’t even be possible, unless we have already developed in some way a habit of prayer. Among the busy distractions of youth and middle age, we should be ready to give Our Lord at least the chinks and crannies of our time. We should be generous with our pocket-money if he is to entrust us, later on, with “true wealth”, the wealth of heaven.
If we do that, we can be sure that we will be welcomed, as Mary was, “into eternal dwellings”.