Memorial of Saint Albert the Great, bishop
(II Maccabees 6:18-31; Luke 19:1-10)
Conventional wisdom sees old age as a time of relaxation. The aged should not have to work and may be excused from the disciplines other adults are expected to keep. St. Albert the Great shunned this kind of thinking for himself at least. When he saw that the legacy of St. Thomas Aquinas under attack, he left the leisure of his cell to defend Thomas’ teachings. It was hardly a matter of pride in Aquinas as his former student. Albert realized as much as anyone that Thomas’ writings would be one of the richest treasures in the Church’s storehouse.
In the first reading we hear of another senior who refuses to allow himself to be seduced by comfort. Eleazar could avoid torture by flaunting the Jewish Law along with the masses. His sense of righteousness, however, does not permit it. He further rejects causing scandal by refusing to feign eating pork in order to escape death.
We owe the elderly respect and in many cases thanks. They have given us life and built a society recognized for justice and development. But their work is not finished. In our age of wavering virtue we need them to exemplify faith in God and commitment to righteous living. Without these the gains of the previous generation will be lost in the next.