The first reading today is strange, You have an angel coming to Gideon and telling him that he will be a great champion of the Lord, and that only little Gideon can defeat the mighty Midianites….But Gideon is confused. He is a wimpy little guy, in a family about to flee for their lives. He is the last person God should have chosen for an epic battle. Like little David the ruddiest Son of Jessie, or Mary the Virgin, or Peter the sinner or even the Son of the Living God reigning from a manger as a weak little baby; it seemed crazy to think that Gideon could be God’s champion.
And it is like that with you. Great men and women who you are. You’ve brought up children, taught in schools, some of you have been principals, diocesan officials, some champions of industry, great intellects and noble citizens of Worcester.
And now you are often sick and sometimes weak or in great pain. Sometimes you get confused and sometimes its like there’s a frustrating fog floating about your head. It’s tough to get old. It’s like Bette Davis used to say: “Old age ain't no place for sissies.”
But here you are in this house of our Lady, Notre Dame, and God has given you, little Gideon, a great battle to fight. It’s sometimes a battle against sickness, and sometimes against despair. Sometimes a battle against disease pain, and sometimes a battle against loneliness or the sense that God is done with you.
But God is not done with you. Indeed, for your whole life he has been preparing you for this one great battle: against the darkness of the devil, a battle against the fear with which Satan tempts us, the same battle fought by Mary at the foot of the Cross, or Saint Teresa in her illness or so many of the saints when they reached a ripe old age.
“Gray hair.” the Bible tells us, “is a glorious crown; it is found in the way of righteousness” With righteousness in your right hand and your perduring faith in the left, fight the good fight, my dear brothers and sisters, and teach us, your younger daughters and sons, what it means to follow the Lord.
And, by the way, Gideon won the battle. As you can too.