Homily – July 25, 2021

Pope Francis has asked that this Sunday be celebrated as Grandparents day. Tomorrow is the feast day of Sts Anne and Joachim, the parents of Mary, the grandparents of Jesus. We have no scriptural knowledge of them. Their names appear in non-scriptural writings in the second century. Their feasts have been celebrated since 1584.

But Pope Francis, who was close to his own grandparents, wants us to honor and celebrate our grandparents and the contributions they made to our lives. So today we honor and thank our Grandparents for the ways they influenced our lives. Speaking to today’s Grandparents Pope Francis says, ‘This is your vocation at your age- to preserve our roots, to pass on the faith to the youth and to care for the little ones, a great task.

I never knew my grandparents. They all died before I was born. But grandparents pass on to us family stories, grandmother pass on families recipes, grandfather pass on the family histories. They pass on to us family memories.

As Canadians we are or should be shocked and embarrassed by the history of the residential schools and the impact they had on future generations of indigenous men and women and their children. These children were robbed of their past. Separated from parents and grandparents these children were robbed of the wisdom and life skills of their parents and grandparents. These children, who now lie in unmarked graves, were robbed of age old skills of hunting and trapping and fishing, and how to survive in the wilderness they never experienced living in the wild, under the stars. They never heard family stories, family history or tribal history. They were never exposed to their native spirituality. They were robbed.

Indigenous girls never were taught family meals, never learned how to tan a deer hide, never learned how to make moccasins or do bead and quill decorations. They were robbed.

The lasting effects of all this is that in their own parenting they had nothing to pass on to their children, they lacked parenting skills.

I watch a program on TVO about indigenous men and women who became architects and designed community and cultural centers on the reserves. In planning their projects every one of them said,’ first of all I listened to our Elders, listened to our Elders. Listened. They knew that years have wisdom the days know nothing of.

Preparing to celebrate the lives and example of the grandparents of Jesus we thank and honor the influence and wisdom of our grandparent, living and dead.