A group of retired residents of an institution diplomatically called “A Home for Senior Citizens” had gathered for an afternoon discussion led by a volunteer from a local university.  Each person was asked to quote a favorite poem or to sing a favorite song and then to comment on the verse or song.  One frail, little lady both began and ended the session when she lifted her hand and repeated part of a familiar line: “Grow old along with me… the best is yet to be.”  No sooner had her voice faded in the air than a gruff, loud snort was heard from the back of the room.  Then, in a language liberally punctuated by profanity, an elderly man shouted his objection to the sentiment.  “The best is yet to be,” he blurted, “just look at us… old… shriveled… weak…”  And his tirade would undoubtedly have continued had not the leader turned the group to another direction and a new activity.

                Old age is rapidly becoming a major concern in our world generally, and in our nation, especially.  Modern methods of medicine prolong life to an average expectancy which far exceeds that of past generations.  The longer we live, the greater our problems multiply – that is, some problems.  Loneliness, for example; the sense of being forgotten, or forsaken; an increasing feeling of insignificance – life loses its meaning.  Yet, when one person complained about growing old he was quickly reminded, “Would you prefer the alternative?”

                This message is addressed to all of us, not only to our ‘senior citizens,’ who are facing many of these concerns right now.  To those among us who do not consider themselves so elderly – the young and the middle-aged – take a few minutes to reflect and think.  No matter how young we are, hopefully, the time will come when we too may need to remember that we will grow old someday. 

                Clearly, life offers and, in fact, demands that age claim the privilege of retirement from many responsibilities.  We do not expect, nor allow, our blessed senior citizens to fight our country’s battles, to spend long hours in rigorous toil, or to expand what energies they have in trying to barely “scratch out a living” in daily work.  Thank God for enough foresight to provide opportunities of retirement in some realms and from some responsibilities of life.

                Admittedly, impatience is a characteristic of the young.  Young people tend to demand the fulfillment of their desires immediately.  But, with maturity, we tend to expect the development of an ability to be patient, meaning a willingness to wait without losing hope!  Is this realistic?  Is it not more common, in fact, to see those who have waited and expected and endured and trusted for so long gradually just stop and abandon hope!

                The Lord has confidence in us to make a difference in the lives of one another.  We are intended by the Lord to lift and strengthen one another.  How often do we extend ourselves to our ‘senior citizens,’ to our senior brothers and sisters in the parish?  If every member of this Church, if every Christian were just like Jesus, what kind of world, what kind of parish would this be?  Think it over carefully.  If we give of ourselves a little more, to visit with our senior citizens, if we invite them to our homes for Sunday dinner or for a holiday dinner, if we visit with them when they are ill, if we express more kindness, care and love toward them, then indeed that familiar line would be true: “Grow old along with me… the best is yet to be.”  If everybody were living exactly that way, what a wonderful world this would be.  How about you?