Sirach 44:1, 10-15; Matthew 13:16-17
One of my sisters recently found an old family video and circulated a copy through the internet. It was from a Christmas well over 30 years ago and showed my two sisters, my sister’s one year-old son, my Mom and Dad, and one of my daughters.
I wasn’t good for much after watching it even for a few minutes. Seeing my Dad really moved me. He passed away less than two years after that film. I had memories of him – his voice, mannerisms, the twinkle in his eyes – but when I saw him it was amazing how dim my memories actually were. Equally startling was seeing my daughter. Of course, I remember her as a 4 year old but the video was showing me the actual kid. Once again, it struck me how much my memory was a poor, faded version of the wonderful reality.
Salvation history is not much different. In the first reading, Ben Sira speaks of those ancestors who will never be forgotten (Sirach 44:10). These were the godly people to whom God spoke in partial and various ways (Hebrews 1:1) and who, century after century, handed down the tradition to those who came after. From the most ancient time when God walked with man in the Garden and later spoke of the woman’s seed who would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15) onward – through Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, from first prophet to the last – the wealth of salvation history, which was still alive and waiting to be realized had, like my memory, become a faded version of the original reality.
Today we honor Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary, for many reasons related to salvation in memory and reality. Most especially we honor them as husband and wife, for it was their marriage, their union that produced the Immaculate Conception, which transformed the dim, distant memory of salvation into a living, breathing, crystal clear reality. We also honor them because, as the last of that long line of generations who patiently waited through the long night for the first rays of salvation’s dawn, doing so honors all the faithful who lived through and, in whatever ways they could, passed on the events of salvation history to those who came after. Finally, we honor them as parents, for they raised their daughter in the faith, taught her the love and goodness of God, and instilled in her the devotion He preferred for the mother of His Only Son.
The words of Jesus in today’s gospel are a fitting tribute to Sts. Joachim and Anne:
Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:16-17)
Sts. Joachim and Anne, pray for us.