JULY 26, 2010 — SAINTS JOACHIM AND ANNE: SIRACH 44: 1, 10-15; MATTHEW 13: 16-17
NOW LET US PRAISE GODLY MEN AND OUR FATHERS WHO BEGOT US. The Church’s liturgy today is in striking contrast to the author of Ecclesiasticus, Sirach as the Greek translator calls him. For he included only men in his long list of holy ancestors the Jewish people, whereas the Catholic tradition honors with today’s liturgical celebration the mother of Mary as well as her father, considering both of them deserving of praise. Being the parents of Mary they are as well the grandparents of Jesus. Scripture itself has no explicit reference to either of Mary’s parents for the two evangelists who record the ancestry of Jesus, trace his lineage through Joseph only. Matthew and Luke both do this knowing that Joseph is not the physical father of Jesus; rather, Joseph is the recognized legal father. Social practice wins out over physiological considerations, as curious as such a tradition seems to us today.
Early followers of Jesus, however, came to feel differently before long so that Christian piety, reflecting on the holiness of Mary, the virgin mother of the all-holy Son of God, supplied for the lack of a historically reliable account of her ancestry with stories of her parents based on convictions of their faithful adherence to God. Only the most saintly parents, it was reasoned, could have reared so holy and favored a child as Mary, mother of the Savior. Whether their names were in fact Joachim and Anne, they are remembered by these designations, and we along with the Church pay homage to them today as the devoted, holy parents who reared the most spiritually gifted of all women and the most favored by God. Our Catholic faith is at once more human and more divine in accepting into its sacred cycle of feasts this memorial of Mary’s parents based on the firm conviction that only the most faithful of God’s adherents could have provided a family setting in which so exalted a servant of God as Mary of Nazareth could be formed..
drew up his lengthy list of the holy fathers of
Saints Joachim and Anne lived
about 150 years after Ben Sirach translated his
grandfather’s work with its long list of holy ancestors of
By our faith in Jesus we are made members of his family and share the same hope that was the strength of his mother and, in a more hidden way, of her parents. By our wholehearted participation in this Eucharist may we too be strengthened in loving trust that the Savior who sanctified his mother and all his holy ancestors will make us worthy members of that company of his saints that ever honors him in thanksgiving for the love he gives even to us.&
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