Jul 26 – Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary
By tradition, Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary’s father and mother come to us through legend and tradition. 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.” It was their example of parenting that Mary must have followed as she brought up her own son, Jesus. It was their faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed her to stand by the cross as her son was crucified and still believe. Such parents can be examples and models for all parents.
Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15
From Elim they set out, and the whole community of the sons of Israel reached the wilderness of Sin – between Elim and Sinai – on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt. And the whole community of the sons of Israel began to complain against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness and said to them, ‘Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!’
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now I will rain down bread for you from the heavens. Each day the people are to go out and gather the day’s portion; I propose to test them in this way to see whether they will follow my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have brought in, this will be twice as much as the daily gathering.’
Moses said to Aaron, ‘To the whole community of the sons of Israel say this, “Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your complaints.”’ As Aaron was speaking to the whole community of the sons of Israel, they turned towards the wilderness, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the form of a cloud. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel. Say this to them, “Between the two evenings you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have bread to your heart’s content. Then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.”’ And so it came about: quails flew up in the evening, and they covered the camp; in the morning there was a coating of dew all round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted, there on the surface of the desert was a thing delicate, powdery, as fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When they saw this, the sons of Israel said to one another, ‘What is that?’ not knowing what it was. ‘That’ said Moses to them ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.’
Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the beach, and he told them many things in parables.
He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
“Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”
I was privileged to have had a discussion with an atheist about the need for Jesus and religion in our lives.
Among the breadth of opinions shared, one statement gave me particular cause for reflection. He believed in the power of human rationality to craft a convincing, positive narrative for the events that have taken place in our lives. Since Christian life does not immunize us from suffering, he opined that with the right conditioning, anyone could make sense of life’s tumults and could invariably view those seeming coincidences through a generous lens.
If our survival instinct is hard-coded into our DNA, then surely we would overcome the bad, cherish the good, and plod through the rest of life’s banalities with the single-mindedness of a marathon runner heading towards the finish line. Probability and science would be the definite panaceas for dealing with uncertainty and the unknown.
I struggled with my feelings towards this point-of-view. I started off feeling jealous of people who are able to cope with life’s difficulties independently. They seemed strong and resolute; people made of sterner stuff than I was. I then was filled with anger as I thought about the path God had led me on thus far. Why did He allow me to make innumerable poor decisions? Why has there been so much pain?
However, upon deeper reflection on my way home, the malaise faded and gratitude filled my heart. In my times of weakness and failure, God cradled me and walked with me on my journey. By crying out to God and having him as my only crutch, our relationship grew. He has filled me with a deep-seated peace that can only be attained through communion with Him. God isn’t a fad that I will outgrow. He does not have an expiration date or faces obsolescence from a newer model.
I never did ask my friend if he was truly happy. Or if he would entertain the possibility of an infinite being that transcends our human understanding of joy, love, and providence. But it doesn’t really matter for now, because Jesus loves and cares for him too, even though my friend cannot see His footprints.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Anonymous)
Prayer — Dear Lord, grant us the humility to always look to you as our North Star.
Thanksgiving — We thank you Father for our moments of weakness. In those moments, you show us your unyielding strength.