Saturday, 27 July 2013

Feast day of St Joachim and Anne: Readings for Friday, July 26th

Tradition can be a tricky thing. Indeed, it's not always something to sing and dance about as it is in 'Fiddler on the Roof'. It can be quite complex! The stories that emerge from our traditions, can sometimes  make perfect sense, but they are simply not historically documented (just because something is not historically documented, that does not make it false. It just makes it harder for us to relate to!).  They are stories that are told to help us deepen  the human connection to our faith. As time goes on, the tradition becomes much more elaborate and realistic, and serves as a wonderful tool in our devotion to God.

 Nowadays, many people are a little skeptical around the value  such traditions.  It's  so much easier for them to act dismissively towards these stories, by comparing them to  fairy tales and other children stories ( one argument that I hear a lot from people: 'I don't believe in Santa Claus, why should I believe in God?" I'm usually stunned at the childishness of such reasoning!) However, these ARE important stories for us, because they can connect us to the human element of our faith more than anything else can. The story around the two Saints we celebrated on Friday, is a good example of this.

Sts. Joachim and Anne

"By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the 
parents of Mary, the Mother of God.  Any stories about Mary's father 
and mother come to us through legend and tradition.We get the oldest 
story from a document called the Gospel of James, (a rather controversial 
source, not always trusted!). The legend told in this document says that 
after years of childlessness, an angel appeared to tell Anne and Joachim 
that they would have a child. Anne promised to dedicate this child to 
God (much the way that Samuel was dedicated by his mother
 Hannah -- Anne -- in 1 Kings).
For those who wonder what we can learn from people we know nothing
 about and how we can honor them, we must focus on why they are honored 
by the church. Whatever their names or the facts of their lives, the 
truth is that it was the parents of Mary who nurtured Mary, taught her,
 brought her up to be a worthy Mother of God. It was their teaching that led 
her to respond to God's request with faith, "Let it be done to me as you will." (Luke 1:38)" 

Reflection: One way to understand the value of St Anne and Joachim, is to remember how our Aboriginal people in Canada look at their ancestors(after all, Anne and Joachim are meant to be our spiritual ancestors!!): They see them as people to keep in their hearts and minds. They may know very little about these ancestors, but they speak about them frequently. It's a way of keeping themselves connected with the wisdom,and the strength that filled the bodies and souls of their ancestors. 

    This attitude is something we've partially lost in the West where many believe that because of all the 'progress' we've made socially or scientifically, we know more than our ancestors ever did, and have therefore,nothing to learn from them. I feel sorry for anyone who believes this, because I genuinely feel that many of our problems in this world would be resolved if we payed more attention to some of the wisdom of those who preceded us. 

 This is not a wisdom  rooted in science or logic, or in the narcisim that drives much of our business, social and political culture today, but is a much deeper, more spiritually in tune understanding of who we are as a species, and how we ought to coexist with creation.  Even more significant for us, is that, as the first reading suggests, when we remember that wisdom, we remember the people who carried it. And as we remember them, we continue the legacy of  love, justice and peace that this wisdom is rooted in as well, which as Pope Francis keeps reminding us, is one of our most important tasks as Christians and citizens of good will on earth! However, we don't need to do this alone. Let us be inspired by all those who came before in love, and in communion with all of God's creation!

Sirach 44:
 1, 10 - 15

1Let us now praise famous men and women, and our fathers and mothers in their generations.
10But these were people of mercy, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten;
11their prosperity will remain with their descendants, and their inheritance to their children's children.
12Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake.
13Their posterity will continue for ever, and their glory will not be blotted out.
14Their bodies were buried in peace, and their name lives to all generations.
15Peoples will declare their wisdom, and the congregation proclaims their praise.
Psalms 126: 1 - 6
11The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: "One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.
13For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation:
14"This is my resting place for ever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
17There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon himself his crown will shed its luster.
Matthew 13: 16 - 17

16But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
17Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.


  1. where did you get the icon photo? love it.

  2. Yes, I apologize for not quoting my source on that one! I did a basic Google image search, because neither EWTN or had a picture of the 2. I ended up taking this picture from another blog:

    Don't know where the author of that blog took it from!!