Jesus' Grandparents



Happy Grandparents Day! Now I know it is not the officiall U.S. Grandparents Day. Since 1978 that's been celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day which will be September 11 this year. But I like to honor grandparents today because it's the feast of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary--Sts. Joachim and Anne--the grandparents of Jesus.

In the Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, their feast day is September 9, the day after we celebrate the Nativity of Mary. I have a book by the Serbian Orthodox saint, Nikolai Velimirovic, entitled "The Prologue of Ohrid" and it has the following information about these saints:

"St. Joachim was of the lineage of Judah and a descendent of King David. Anna was the daughter of Matthan the priest, from the lineage of Levi, as was Aaron the high priest. Matthan had three daughters: Mary, Sophia and Anna. Mary married, lived in Bethlehem and gave birth to Salome; Sophia married, also lived in Bethlehem, and gave birth to Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Forerunner; Anna married Joachim in Nazareth, and in old age gave birth to Mary, the Most-holy Theotokos [God-bearer]."

In honoring the grandparents of Jesus, we're reminded of the tremendous influence that families have on the development of their children. Joachim and Anne must have been people of deep faith, a faith which they instilled in the sinless Virgin Mary, leading her to surrender completely to God's will at the Annunciation.

A few years ago Pope Benedict had the following to say on this feast:

“This occasion makes us think of the subject of education which has an important place in the pastoral work of the Church. In particular, it invites us to pray for grandparents, who, in the family, are the depositories and often witnesses of the fundamental values of life. The educational task of grandparents is always very important, and it becomes even more so when, for various reasons, the parents are unable to provide their children with an adequate presence while they are growing up. I entrust to the protection of St Anne and St Joachim all the grandparents of the world and bestow on them a special blessing. May the Virgin Mary who … - learned to read the Sacred Scriptures at her mother Anne's knee, help them always to nourish their faith and hope at the sources of the Word of God."

Lastly, though he is deceased, Fr. Al Lauer's wonderfully insightful reflections continue to appear on Presentation Ministries' web site. Today he reminds us that our lives, and every moment of our lives, have eternal significance. This is the meaning of the Daily Offering which unites the moments of our day to the perfect offering of Jesus on the cross and at Mass. Fr. Lauer wrote:

"Many grandparents don't feel they are having much influence on their children and grandchildren. We all feel frustrated by our limitations in impacting the world for Jesus. However, this feast day emphasizes that we have a much greater influence on our families and our world than the devil would have us believe. ... Everything we do for love of Jesus has personal, immediate, communal, international, and eternal significance. We are sons and daughters of God the Father. Our lives, actions, words, time, and decisions can be part of God's awesome plan of salvation."

Amen to that!