Saturday, July 26, 2014
This statue stands in the corner of my backyard. St. Anne and St. Mary as a small child. Mary is depicted reading the scriptures. They would of course been the Hebrew Scriptures. Whether or not it is historically accurate doesn't really matter. It is a piece of art that invites us to meditate, meditate on the mother who raised the girl who became the most famous woman in the history of the world.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Anne. In Hebrew the name would have actually been Hannah (favor or grace). What we know of her and her her Joachim come from a document known as the protoevangelion of James. Like hundreds of other early Christian writings it is not considered the inspired word of God and is therefore not in the Bible. But like the other early Christian writings it does contain some information that can be interesting and useful. Just because it isn't in the Bible doesn't mean parts of it aren't true. Nor does it mean they are "Lost Gospels".
Are the names of Mary's parents essential for salvation? No. But it is worth reflecting on who they were, and what the experience of their daughter and grandson meant to them. How did they react to the news of Mary's pregnancy? What role did they play in the life of their grandchild Jesus? How did they react to his death and ressurection? Were they still alive at that point?
We sometimes think about Jesus Mary and Joseph as if they lived in a bubble. We forget that there would of course have been parents of Joseph and Mary, most probably they would have had brothers and sisters as well, aunts and uncles of Jesus.
Jesus grew up in a world in which extended family was still essential. Did Mary's mother teach her to read as depicted in the statue in my yard? Perhaps not. But did she instill in her a deep devotion to God and his Word? Absolutely.
We all know the old saying, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Today let us take a moment to reflect on the tree from which Mary fell, St. Anne, along with all the other holy men and women who would have been part of the early life of Jesus, those years not included in the Bible, the men and women who had the unique privilege of watching him grow, from from the infant in the manger to the man, the man who would call his apostles, live, die, and ascend, returning to his place at the right hand of the father.
St. Anne is venerated by Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican Churches. Even Martin Luther's decision to enter religious life is said to have been the result of his crying out to St. Anne.
Today let us turn to grandmother who is surely with her daughter and her grandson in heaven. Through her intercession may we to have the faith to say, let it be done unto me according to your will.