Feast of Joachim and Ann
As I write this, my grownup children have lost their last remaining grandparent, my husband’s Dad, just a few days ago. We are in the sacred and liminal space between death and funeral. A time for gathering and reflection.
We have always lived at least a day’s drive from all the grandparents, but they have taught the kids much about faith. They knew that while they may have only seen their grandparents a few times a year, the grandparents saw each other every Saturday night at 6 pm Mass, always eager to share any news that they had about the kids. At both houses, there were crucifixes and prayer plaques on the walls, holy cards on the fridge and the parish newsletter on the kitchen counter. The grandparents particularly made efforts to be present when the kids celebrated their sacraments. Sometimes one couple representing both, bringing gifts and much love from the other, or we had the joy of all being together in our home. None of their deaths were sudden, although death always has its own suddenness; the kids were comforted knowing that each grandparent accepted their impending death in the faith that they were going to God and did so with grace and in peace. As hard as these early days of grief are, the kids are comforted by the thought that Pop is now with their Nan and others they have loved, because this is believed by their family.
Today we celebrate the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, who, by tradition, we celebrate as the grandparents of Jesus. We know nothing of them, but we do know that Mary must have been brought up in a faith-filled family to be ready to do the will of God. We do not know if Joachim and Anne were part of the child Jesus’ everyday life, but perhaps Jesus, both human and divine, had his grandfather’s nose or his grandmother’s smile and would have known himself as belonging and loved. We carry our families with us.
Alison Gore is a parishioner at St Paul of the Cross, Glen Osmond. She works in education and formation.