Homily for July 26, memorial of Sts. Anne and Joachim
Great events in history usually do not come out of nowhere, like lightning in a blue sky. Even though they can be a surprise to those who live through them, historians looking back can usually see how those great events were prepared by the actions of many people over a long period of time. Many of the people who contributed to major developments have been forgotten by time, or are only known to us by name or by some obscure reference in a document.
Our Lord Jesus Christ’s work of redemption is no different. God laid the groundwork and prepared the world for thousands of years, and many people contributed to the historical and religious trends that set the stage for Christ’s birth. The saints we celebrate today are good examples of this: they are St. Joachim and St. Anne, the Virgin Mary’s parents and Our Lord’s grandparents.
We know very little about them with certainty, but as Jesus says, “by their fruit you shall know them.” Mary’s Immaculate Conception was a gift from God, but Joachim and Anne were the ones who taught Mary how to love and serve God faithfully. They also most likely at least had to approve Mary’s marriage with Joseph, and may even have played a part in arranging it, although there are varying traditions in this respect. St. Anne taught Mary how to be a good wife and mother, and how to manage a household. So, even though they are never mentioned explicitly in the Gospel, their positive influence is there, working behind the scenes. Their holiness was not revealed in showy miracles, but in quiet fidelity to God in their roles in their family.
Most of us will never have highly visible roles in world-changing events, but today’s saints teach us that the influence of our actions can go far beyond what we expect. Being good parents or grandparents, or a good role model for anyone, can make a real difference in the world. The positive effects of our influence can spread through family and friends, touching many people’s lives indirectly. May Saints Joachim and Anne intercede for all of us today, that we may be holy and faithful in the roles God has given us in our ordinary day-to-day lives.