Gipo the elf and Ariel the fairy opened the meeting between Pope Francis and thousands of grandparents and grandchildren, gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, September 28th. The two characters, familiar faces on Rai’s YoYo, played by Oreste Castagna and Greta Pierotti, interpreted five scriptural passages characterized by the sorrows and joys of some elderly couples of the Bible. At the end of each story, Don Romano Martinelli concluded with a few short and incisive words, followed by a brief testimony related to the world of old age, and musical interludes.
One of the most beautiful episodes narrated was certainly that of Eleazar, who was presented by Ariel in this way: "At that time, the Jews are under the rule of Antiochus IV, who had forbidden the cult of Israel’s God, under penalty of death. The Jews rebelled against this order; Antiochus’ response is violent and the rebellion is suppressed by bloodshed. Precisely because this man had a high profile and was respected by the people, the emissaries of the invading king chose Eleazar, to give an example to all Jews. They want to force him to eat forbidden foods, but Eleazar refuses. Other Jews then try to get him to cooperate, to pretend to eat the forbidden foods."
Then, Gipo took the floor, quoting directly Eleazar, who does not yield to any pressure and so goes to his death: " it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young men would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus dissimulate for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Therefore—he continues—by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age, and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws."
Don Romano’s commentary is clear and full of admiration before such love: "This old martyr educates young people for life through his own death. He breaths with both lungs of faith: remembering and transmitting! It is better to lose one’s skin than to desert the Covenant that is life. This is a story of courage and resurrection! The truthful old man has learned how to die from living."