Today we celebrate our grandparents in Christ – Joachim and Ann. To repeat what I said last Sunday, when we were baptised into the body of Christ, we could address his Father as Our Father. Particularly in the light of John 19:25-27 we can relate to Mary as our mother too. Thus Jesus grandparents (Mary’s father and mother) become our grandparents as well.
In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a family history of Jesus (through Joseph), tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of the great promises of the Old Testament. However we know nothing factual about Mary’s ancestry and parents except that they existed. Even the names of Joachim and Ann come from a legendary source [the apocryphal gospel of St James which was not included in the New Testament because of its doubtful authorship] written more than a century after Jesus died.
The heroism and holiness of these people, however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfilment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.
The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives —all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past. Joachim and Ann — whether this is their real names or not — represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.
This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: they must make past traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored. Thus the Church in its teaching says: “The family is the foundation of society. In it the various generations come together and help one another to grow wise and to harmonize personal rights with the other requirements of social life”. (Taken from Saint of the Day, Volume 2)