Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary
Today we honor grandparents, as we look to Joachim and Anne, grandparents of Jesus. Mary gave birth to Jesus when she was about 14 years old, and we can presume her parents were still alive then.
Here is an important reality: the Biblical blessing upon family is for three generations–yourself, your children, and your children’s children. It is important to understand this blessing, as we struggle to defend family, which is under intense assault by the anti-family, anti-life, homosexualist reproductive health forces, according to the intent of the evil one to destroy what is God’s creation.
The Biblical blessing is for three generations. “May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity all the days of your life, and live to see your children’s children.” (Ps 128:5-6a). When we met our spouse and then got married, we thought that was the highest point in our lives. Then we had our first child, and we thought that was the highest point in our lives. But there is more. That is the coming of our first grandchild. All those who choose the vocation of marriage should look to the coming of their grandchild(ren), and it is only then that life in the Lord and the blessing on family come in its fullness.
The stability of a nation (and of the Church) is assured when those who live for God are able to pass on the faith to their children, and then help ensure that their children pass on the faith to their own children. “They shall live on the land I gave to Jacob my servant, the land where their ancestors lived; they shall live on it always, they, their children, and their children’s children” (Ez 37:25). With such generational overlaps, the passing on of the faith can be assured, through all generations until the end of time.
This three-generational blessing stems from our having a covenant with God, as His people. “This is my covenant with them, which I myself have made, says the Lord: My spirit which is upon you and my words that I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouths of your children nor the mouths of your children’s children from this time forth and forever, says the Lord.” (Is 59:21). Being in and living our covenant with God, we receive God’s Spirit, and we pass on the faith, through words of instruction as well as the silent witness of our lives.
But the three-generational blessing is not automatic, that is, we have our part to play. “However, be on your guard and be very careful not to forget the things your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart as long as you live, but make them known to your children and to your children’s children.” (Dt 4:9). We are blessed by God, but at times we forget, and we veer away from the fullness of faith. That can be tragic, as the blessing turns into a three-generational curse. “Therefore I will again accuse you–oracle of the Lord–even your children’s children I will accuse.” (Jer 2:9). This does not mean that God punishes our grandchildren who are innocent of our own transgressions, but that they ultimately become victims of our transgressions. When we fail to pas on the faith due to our own infidelities, then our children and our grandchildren will live apart from the faith, and thus suffer the consequences.
Thus we strive to live out our covenant with God, and then, even in our failings, we are able to trust in His mercy. “But the Lord’s mercy is from age to age, toward those who fear him. His salvation is for the children’s children of those who keep his covenant, and remember to carry out his precepts.” (Ps 103:17). We work at our salvation with fear and trembling, we carry out the precepts of God for our lives, but not just for ourselves, but for the children whom we love, as well as our grandchildren. We should also intercede fervently for our grandchildren, who often are not physically with us all the time.
So it is not enough that we pass on the faith to our own children. Grandparents must help their children pass on the faith to their (the grandparents) grandchildren, without usurping the primary role of the parents. In fact, it oftentimes happens, unfortunately, that we try our best to bring our children to the faith, only to see them falter, and our children then fail to bring their own children to the faith. Grandparents must know that their responsibility has not ceased, but they need to look to their grandchildren as well. Grandparents have greater experience and maturity in the faith, which they then must impart not just to their children but to their grandchildren as well.
Further, in today’s busy world, oftentimes with parents both working, or parents being outside the home working in another country, there is a distinct role, and opportunity, for grandparents to help their grandchildren come to vibrant faith in Jesus. In fact, when children balk at the directives of their parents with regard to faith, it can often be the grandparents who can reinforce what parents instruct.
So grandparents, do not just enjoy your grandchildren, but in your great love for them, know that the greatest manifestation of that love is to help bring them to vibrant faith in Jesus.
May the blessing of Almighty God be upon you, your children, and your children’s children.
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God bless you.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)