In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names – “Joachim” and “Anne” come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died. The heroism and holiness of these people however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s child- hood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.
The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives – all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past. Joachim and Anne – whether these are their real names or not represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.
This is the “feast of grandparents”. It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.