{Begin "My Way"} In this song, we detect a person's satisfaction with his (and her) life. Whether we are 82 or 62 or 42 or 22, we all have a life on which we reflect. Depending on our personality and life experiences, our reflections are positive or negative, or somewhere in between. In the first reading, more negative in tone, the prophet calls the people of Jerusalem to be like their earlier neighbors in the powerful city of Megiddo imploring their god of vegetation to wash away their sins and the results of their lives. In the responsory, we sang and recited a more positive turn in the feelings of ourselves and the psalmist, who look to our Creator to accept the poor offerings we make in our lives. In the second reading St Paul challenges us to take on positively the equality of all persons, to accept our lives and the lives of others as equal in and by clothing ourselves in an adult faith wardrobe. In the gospel, Jesus challenges us not to run from suffering but to embrace it in his name.

{Roll down poster}. "Growing old is not for sissies". Some day many of us will awake to find ourselves in an escape-proof concentration camp : old age. We begin aging at birth and look to a pleasurable old age. But too often we old bucks and does are seen as a drain , not as a treasure chest of history and knowledge. Who needs old folks when we have Google? The euphemistic description as "seniors" or "golden years" begins to disappear as we face times of depression, pain, suffering. The essence of entering the prison of old age is loss, whether it is freedom of movement, activity, our looks, strength, eyesight, memory and other treasures of our being. One preparation for this age could be the "King Midas touch", that is, begin touching whatever is in your now life with golden awareness and diamond gratitude. Turn the dull tin of common things into gleaming treasure. The driver's license acquired at age 16 may have to be given up at 86, but a replacement of vehicle and driver is an opportunity to be thankful. A most piquant loss is that of memory : gone are so many profoundly meaningful events. One could feel stripped to the bone. Be fortunate if you realize earlier in your own lives that losses will come with aging, but gracefully embrace the fact now.

Work on accepting the medicine of love offered us to offset prickly impatience, touchy irritability, grumpiness, cynicism, and sickly nostalgia. One good cure for bellyaching is the bitter pill of being your own critic. More dignity must be surrendered when we are so intimately dependent on our loving physical and medical care-givers. The challenge is to fall in love with your withered body and fading mind. In the last stage of aging, we old ones must confront death's striptease.

At the age of 80, King Lear (Shakespeare anyone?) speaks to his daughter Cordelia:

No, no, no, no! Let's away to prison; we two alone will sing like birds in the cage; When you ask my blessing, I'll kneel down and ask of you forgiveness. So, we'll live and pray and sing and tell old tales and laugh at gilded butterflies and hear poor rogues talk of court news, and we'll talk with them, too. Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out; and take upon us the mystery of things, as if we were God's spies; and we'll wear out, in a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones, that ebb and flow by the moon.

No, no, no to self-pity and yearning to be young. Come let's away to prison! {more "My Way"}

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