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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grandparents: Joachim and Anne

          I never really connected emotionally to the feast of Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary. We are not even sure that we have their names right because the data that scholars pulled together were taken from non-scriptural writings like the Protogospel of James. Devotion to Anne existed in 6th century Constantinople and 8th century Rome. It seems like the Eastern churches began many valuable traditions that eventually took hold in the West. Joachim was honored since the earliest days and the West eventually honored him in the 16th century.

          The parents of Joseph, however, are not similarly honored. Through Matthew's genealogy, we know that Jacob was the father of Joseph, but we do not know Jacob's wife's name. I can only imagine that they enjoyed watching the boy Jesus grow just as much as Anne and Joachim. It seems that most parents enjoy the opportunity to be a grandparent.

          I only remember one grandparent, which is probably why I don't relate to this memorial very well. I am named after my two grandfathers. My father's parents both died before I was born and each of them remarried giving us two step-grandparents, Doc and Melba, but since they lived in the Midwest we saw them twice in our lifetime. My maternal grandfather, Alfred, died before I was born leaving only his wife, Maria, as our grandmother. We thought God somehow made a mistake in giving her to us because she spoke in a thick Italian accent and my mother spoke English flawlessly. I thought somehow she was supposed to be given to someone else's family, but we knew her as Grandma. Since we lived in a remote place, we seldom saw her.

          By wondering what it must have been like for Jesus to have both sets of grandparents nearby and a whole village, I wonder how my life would have been enriched. It does take a village to raise a child. My friends who are grandparents love their vocation to nurture their young ones. It gives them great joy - and lots of hope. Let us pray for our grandparents and older relatives today because of the many ways they enrich our lives. 


  1. Not growing up in the Catholic tradition, I had never thought about Jesus' grandparents until I was in the Holy Land and our pastor took us to the church on the site where it is thought that Mary was born and he prayed for those of us who were grandparents. I was overwhelmed to be there. It is such a blessing to put ourselves into the scene and to experience the humanity of Jesus in a very real way. Thanks for this post.

    1. Thanks, Lynda. I hadn't ever really pondered or prayed over it until this year when I have to preach on the memorial day. Being in those geographic places helps me to enter more fully into the composition of place for prayer.