Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne,
parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
Sitting in the faculty lounge during my first year of teaching, I was surrounded by the cumulative wisdom of seasoned teachers, many of whom taught me. The conversation that particular day was quite disturbing. The foibles of adolescents in high school were paraded out for all to lament. Their inattentiveness, tardiness, stubbornness, laziness, and overall snarky nature exacerbated these teachers. "Well," I ventured to say, "if they’re to be perfect, then they really don’t need us, do they? Isn’t this why we’re all here?" That cleared the room.
Just as Jeremiah was sent as a prophet to the people of Israel, God sends parents, teachers and preachers to help us find our way during those times in our lives when we get lost. Jeremiah was a reluctant prophet, and referred to as the "Weeping Prophet" for all the suffering he endured in calling the people of Israel back to their Covenant with God. What parent or teacher, what confessor or counselor is not also rightly called a weeping prophet?
We are stubborn learners. We resist new ideas or ways of doing things that force us out of our comfort zones and familiar ways. We wander like roaming sheep without thought that we are lost…we just don’t know where we are, as my grandfather liked to clarify when we were actually lost. Learning, healing and reconciling begins, to borrow the First Step in AA, with admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion. We have to admit we are lost.
Each of us can identify those in our lives who were a prophet to us. Maybe they were in the classroom. Maybe at home. On the playing field. In a doctor’s office. They were sent by God to help us find our centers, our hearts, our meaning and hope. They were our personal prophets who were not afraid to stand up to speak what needed to be said, whether we liked it or not.
Today’s memorial feast honors Sts. Joachim and Anne, the parents of Mary. History actually does not record their names and there is no mention of them at all in the Gospels. But no matter their names, we know Mary had parents who helped guide her to a moment of truth when she said to the Angel Gabriel, "Let it be done to me according to your Word." She was open to learning from a rather strange visitor the meaning of the Word of God in her life.
The Gospel today begs us to have ears that hear, eyes that see, and hearts that understand. That means we need to surround ourselves with those who will be prophets for us, who will help us learn what God desires for us.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.