I never knew my grandfathers. My mother’s father died when she was only five years old, and my father’s father died before I was born. I knew my grandmothers. They were very different and both made a special impression on my life, my heart and my family life. But so too did my grandfathers. Though I never knew them I know of them. Stories were shared about them, memories of them were recalled, and photographs looked at.
On July 26th the Church celebrates St Joachim and St Anne, Our Lady’s parents. Neither are mentioned in the New Testament. We find their names in a few ancient sources. We honour, and celebrate and share stories about them. These are the parents who brought up Mary – who loved her and in their way prepared her to be me the Mother of God, the Mother of Our Lord.
Perhaps some of the stories about my grandfathers were not very accurate, but they carried memories in them. They carried truth about them even though some of the detail may not be quite right. I remember my mother telling me that one of the faint memories imprinted on her of her father was him playing the piano while his young wife, my grandmother, danced and sang – and a little girl looked on and never forgot the delightful moment, treasured it and passed it on.
Perhaps Our Lord didn’t know his grandparents, perhaps he did. Whatever their loving of their daughter Mary would have been told by Mary to Jesus, as a Jewish mother tells the stories of family life.
Today I thank God for grandparents and for the love and care they bring to families, for the wisdom they share and the stability they give.
Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, pray for us.