Today, July 26, is the Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary, the Mother of God and the grandparents of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Last year, my wife and I became grandparents. We anticipate the birth of our second grandchild early next year.
Being a grandparent is very different from being a parent. Of course, grandparents know this. The big difference is that you can give them back when the grandchildren get fussy, or when one needs a diaper change, or is hungry, or what have you. A truly fun part of being a grandparent is listening to your now adult child who is a parent him or herself complain about the lack of sleep, the no time for friends or social engagements, the weariness of caring for another human being all day long, and a human being that suddenly has a mind of her own and has become very fond of the word “NO!” – that is, as long as she is saying it and not hearing it. Ah, yes … memories! Honestly, it does go by too fast, and I look fondly back on those nights when I picked my fussy daughter up out of bed and rocked her back to sleep in the middle of the night. It really is something to be the center of another person’s life, and for most of a young child’s life, parents are the center of their lives.
I wonder how it was for Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary. What was their experience raising their daughter, a daughter who was freed from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception? For some reason, it’s hard to imagine the toddler Mary saying “NO!” to her mother and father. But a toddler saying “NO!” to parents isn’t a sin. It’s actually normal development. The child is beginning to distinguish herself as a separate person from her parents, and recognizing her needs and wants. Of course, not everything a toddler wants is good for them, so it’s the responsibility of parents to teach and guide them until that day they can discern well the good path. I’m sure Joachim and Anne (mostly Anne?) were good guides.
Of course, neither did Mary’s freedom from original sin mean that she was infused in an extraordinary way with an understanding of her people’s relationship with God. Joachim and Anne (mostly Joachim?) were responsible for teaching her the Scriptures and the prayers of their tradition, and of explaining to her the unique role of Israel as the People of God.
Then it was Mary’s turn. She, along with Joseph, took on the remarkable task of teaching the Scriptures, the prayers, and the rituals of the Jewish tradition to their own Son. Yes, He was Lord and God-incarnate. But Jesus was a toddler at one time, then a small child, then a young boy. The Gospel According to Luke says, after finding Him in the Temple and returning to Nazareth, that our young Lord was obedient to His parents and that, “Jesus advanced in wisdom and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:51-52). Jesus was human in all ways except sin. He was a child. That means He needed to learn from His parents and, I suspect, from His grandparents. The Scriptures affirm that He did so. How could it be otherwise?
It’s a great joy to watch a child “advance in wisdom and favor before God and man.” First, our children and now our grandchild (and, please God, our grandchildren) have and are advancing in wisdom and favor before God and man. It is a joy and a privilege to watch and to be a part of such a miracle. May our good and gracious Lord bless all parents and, especially today, grandparents in their efforts to raise their children in righteousness.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.