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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Spirituality: The Other Grandparents

Today, the church remembers the maternal grandparents of Jesus, Anne and Joachim. Little is known about them as Scripture makes no reference to them. The church gleans information from the Proto-Gospel of James to make reference to Anne, and a tradition of veneration started around Anne shortly thereafter. As people searching for meaning, we try to fill in the blank data wherever we can.

There is always a question about what we include and exclude. For some in the faith, Mary has an enormous role and stature; for others, they prefer to see her as an accessible woman of great virtue. As we know the crucial role that grandparents often play in the raising of a child, we simply have to ask: Why don't we honor Jacob, the father of Joseph, and his unnamed wife? 

As it takes a village to raise a child, and as the family line is measured along patriarchal ancestry, then Jacob and his wife would have had enormous influence on the development of the child, Jesus. I may want to research this more deeply. 

We need to bring greater balance to our understanding of Scripture. Mary is given preference over Joseph, who is regarded as necessary for his role, but is still pushed aside because he does not matter as much to many. As I'm residing in a Middle Eastern kingdom at moment and I see the significance that the father has in community, it seems right that we give Joseph his due, and his parents as well. By bringing a greater balance to our tradition does not diminish Mary's role. We are not an "either or" people; we are a "both and" people. The traditions of Joseph and Mary matters. 

I see the uncontainable joy of new grandparents as they await the birth of a grandchild. It is almost as miraculous of having one's own child. The grandparents are often gracious and patient and they want to shower their grandchildren with the same love they gave their own children. Something special happens to grandparents when they hold that child for the first time. 

At Mass today, we celebrated both sets of grandparents of Jesus. Each set must have savored the great joy of holding him as an infant and sharing the joy of Joseph and Mary. All the aunts and uncles and neighbors would have celebrated with them. Let's fondly remember those grandparents who held us in their arms for the first time and were overcome with awe, wonder, and admiration. 

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