Today we celebrate the memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They were chosen by God to conceive and raise the mother of his only-begotten Son. As grandparents of our Savior and the parents of the Mother of our Redeemer, they were participants in the great mystery of our salvation. The child whom they conceived, Mary, was preserved from the stain of original sin and was redeemed from the moment of her conception. Today we venerate, Anne, the one chosen by God from all eternity to conceive Mary, the Immaculate Conception.
Joachim and Anne educated and raised Mary and introduced her to God’s Word, the Word that she responded to generously each day and that one day she would conceive by the Holy Spirit. In fact, the home of Joachim and Anne in Nazareth was most likely the place of the Incarnation. In this way, they too welcomed God’s Word in their hearts and in their home.
The first reading, chosen for today’s memorial, draws our attention to the covenant that God made with the ancestors of Israel. Through this covenant, the family of the godly men of Israel endures. Their fidelity and virtues have not been forgotten. God fulfills the promises made to Abraham, the covenant he made with Israel through Moses his servant, and the covenant he made with David, his chosen one, through Joachim and Anne.
It is not easy to sort through all the different stories that have come down to us about the early life of Mary and her parents. Some of the writings we have about Joachim and Anne make an attempt to give Mary both a kingly genealogy (through Joachim, a descendant of David) and a priestly genealogy (through Anne of the tribe of Levi). This is because the promised Messiah is both priest and king.
In any case, the first reading speaks about how the descendants of God’s faithful ones will endure, how their glory will never be blotted out, how their name lives on and on, and how they are praised in the assembly long after they pass away. All of this applies to Joachim and Anne. On the one hand, their descendants – Mary, the New Eve, and Jesus, the New Adam – endure. We form part of that new humanity redeemed in Christ. On the other hand, even today we sing their praises in the liturgical assembly.
The Psalm today focuses our attention on the covenant promise that God swore to King David, the promise that one of David’s descendants would reign without end: “I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son; I will not take my merciful love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom for ever and his throne shall be established for ever” (1 Chronicles 17:11-14). The history of Israel sees the kingdom divided and sent into exile. God, though, is faithful to his promise: Jesus Christ is the son of David, and the grandson of Joachim and Anne, and his kingdom is without end.
It is possible that Joachim and Anne saw Jesus for the first time when the Holy Family returned from Egypt. We can read the Gospel in this light. Their eyes were blessed because they saw the child Jesus, the Son of God. They probably didn’t hear him preach the Gospel of the Kingdom during his public ministry; but they might have heard some of the words of Jesus’ hidden life. And when they heard him, they were amazed at his understanding and his answers to their questions. They saw and heard what the prophets and righteous people of Israel longed to see and hear. In particular, they saw Jesus atone for our disobedience, by his submission to Mary and Joseph (CCC, 517). It is possible that in Nazareth they saw the child Jesus grow in wisdom and strength, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).
Today, we praise God’s faithful and merciful love, for he fulfilled his promises and, through Joachim and Anne, prepared mankind to receive Mary, the All-holy One and Immaculate Conception. Today, we venerate Joachim and Anne, for their fidelity to God and for the way they raised Mary, our Mother. They are models of kindness, love, and joy for grandparents everywhere. In heaven, they intercede for us so that we may attain the salvation God promised to his people (Collect). Like grandparents waiting for the visit of their children and grandchildren, they are eager to welcome us to our heavenly home.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.