July 26, 2011 - Memorial of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today's Readings

Today we remember the grandparents of Jesus, Joachim and Anne. It was in their home that the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and asked her to be the mother of God. They are an image for us of all those Jewish patriarchs who raised up families in the centuries before Jesus came. All those people who, as Sirach says, “were men of mercy, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten.” All those people who, as Jesus told his disciples, “Longed to see what you see and did not see it.”

Joachim and Anne are to be praised in the first place because it was they who passed on the faith and the law to Mary which they had received from their parents. It is so important that children are taught the faith, not as a mere intellectual idea but in practice. Those parents who say that they will let their children decide about religion when they are grown are making a grave mistake. A child raised by wolves is unable to enter human society when they are grown. A child raised without religion will always be lacking a basic human characteristic. Childhood is the time when our minds are formed, and a mind formed without piety is a defective mind. Joachim and Anne instilled in Mary a faith that was able to easily accept the word of an Angel.

Joachim and Anne are also to be praised because they supported Mary in her unusual vocation. When Mary decided to dedicate her life to virginity, they found for her Joseph, a righteous man, to be her husband and protector. When Mary became pregnant before she was married, they trusted what she told them about the angel. As Mary went to fulfill her calling, first to Bethlehem, then Egypt, they watched and prayed for her, knowing that they had taught her all they could about God and doing what is right.

We remember Joachim and Anne today because they were good parents. They never worked a miracle, so far as we know, at least not the kind that amazes crowds. They never preached the Gospel like Peter and Paul. They were good parents, and that is enough to be a saint.