Today’s weekly general audience was again held in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square, as Pope Francis, seated in a swivel chair in the open papal jeep, toured the square to greet the tens of thousands of faithful present. At times he stood to wave to the crowd, He was brought to the stage area and was assisted to his seat, given his very painful knee that recently has made walking so problematic. (EWTN photos Daniel Ibanez)

In fact yesterday, Francis, on doctor’s advice, cancelled his Tuesday appointments to rest the knee.

He began his catechesis saying, “today we will continue to reflect on the elderly, on grandparents, on old age – the word seems ugly but no, the elderly are great, they are beautiful! And today we will let ourselves be inspired by the splendid book of Ruth, a jewel of the Bible. The parable of Ruth sheds light on the beauty of family bonds: generated by the relationship of a couple, but which go beyond it. Bonds of love capable of being equally strong, in which the perfection of that polyhedron of fundamental affections that make up the family grammar of love shines.”

He explained that he wanted to “reflect on the figure of the widow Naomi as presented in the biblical Book of Ruth. This short yet beautiful story speaks of the relationship of love and mutual support between the elderly Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. Naomi, dwelling in a foreign land, is left alone when her two sons die. Despite her grief, she encourages her two daughters-in-law to remain among their own people as she returns to Bethlehem, her native town. Ruth chooses not to abandon her beloved mother-in-law, and accompanies her to Judah, telling her: ‘Your people shall be my people, and your God my God’.”

The Holy Father then notes how “Ruth’s love supports Naomi, and Naomi in turn helps Ruth to find a new husband, Boaz. God blesses this marriage with a son, Obed, who was the father of Jesse, the father of David. The story of these two faithful women shows us that, in God’s providential plan, the covenant of love and fidelity uniting the generations can prove immensely enriching for our families and for the growth of a society that respects the dignity and gifts of each of its members, however young or old.”

Pope Francis acknowledged “that clichés about the bonds of kinship created by marriage, especially that of the mother-in-law, the relationship between mother- and daughter-in-law, speak against this perspective. But, precisely for this reason, the word of God becomes precious. The inspiration of faith can open up a horizon of witness that counters the most common prejudices, a horizon that is precious for the entire human community. I invite you to rediscover the book of Ruth! Especially in the meditation on love and in catechesis on the family.”

The Pope closed with some words about grandparents and grandchildren:

“If the young open themselves to gratitude for what they have received, and the elderly take the initiative of relaunching their future, nothing can stop the flourishing of God’s blessings among peoples! Do not forget, may young people speak with their grandparents, may the young speak with the old, may the old speak with the young. This bridge must be rebuilt in a strong way – there is a current of salvation, of happiness there. May the Lord help us, doing this, to grow in harmony with families, that constructive harmony that goes from the oldest to the youngest, that beautiful bridge that we must protect and safeguard.

The Pope also recalled that today marks the 8th anniversary of the canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II.

For video of the audience with English translations: General Audience – Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis |