SUNDAY, JULY 31
On July 31st we will celebrate the feast of our matron, Saint Anne. Unlike biblical characters or saints like Francis or Benedict, Saint Anne is a bit unique. We know nothing about her that is certain. At some point in the early years of the church, someone began to wonder about the ancestry of Jesus. Everyone knew that Mary was the mother of Jesus – it is recorded in the New Testament. And it goes without saying that she had a mother, and her mother had a mother, and so on. While we know Jesus had these female relatives, the bible says nothing about them.
What we do possess are a few early Christian writings that were not included in the New Testament. The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, and the most detailed accounts of Anne in the Protoevangelium of James. These apocryphal accounts are rooted in history, ensuring that the story of Jesus and Mary and Anne are tied to the traditions of Israel’s past. They claim a relationship between Mary and Anne and the grace of God. The narratives of Anne and her husband, Joachim, are based on archetypal characters in the Hebrew Scriptures. Their lives echo the narratives of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis.
Anne and Joachim, like their forebears are childless. In desperation Anne and Joachim pray for the gift of a child. An angel comes offering words of comfort saying, “Anne, the Lord has looked on your tears, you shall conceive, and the fruit of your womb shall be blessed by all the world.” Words that echo Luke’s story of the annunciation to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus. These stories may be more myth than truth and that is fine. Because they reveal how Anne and Joachim were people of faith, who put their trust in God and lived in hope. Trust and hope are important values we need to navigate our world today.
I hope to see you on July 31 to celebrate Saint Anne. We will also be blessing backpacks as our children and youth head back to school.
See you in church,