By Denise Trull
St Anne. Jesus’s grandmother. I don’t think of her often enough, but what a full life of grace she must have led. Married to her beloved Joachim. Entrusted to enfold Our Lady in her motherly care -- to protect her, to teach her how to be a good wife, passing on all her motherly secrets about taking care of babies. Anne taught Mary how to spin, to cook, to carry water from the well. She taught Mary how to pray, so Mary could teach Jesus how to pray.
Anne and Joachim wisely chose St. Joseph to wed, protect and defend their daughter as her husband. Was Joachim Anne’s template for such a man? Did she seek the same kind of man for her daughter that she herself was so blessed with in Joachim? I believe so, for saints recognize other saints instinctively.
St. Anne was probably Our Lady’s comfort and protection from all the wagging tongues in Nazareth after she returned from Elizabeth and could not yet tell the whole story. It never mentions St. Anne insisting that Mary explain herself, but she seemed to guard her daughter’s silence with a fierce mother-love. St. Anne just trusted her daughter’s goodness. This is a lesson for every mom to learn, this humble kind of trust in our children’s goodness even when we and they might be judged by others who do not understand them as we do.
St. Anne wasn’t there for Jesus’s birth. What an ache for her! She didn’t have the old, familiar, comforting path the other grandmothers in Nazareth had -- she heard rumors of caves, mangers, shepherds and...kings? I am sure she tried to talk Joachim into going down there to see if everything was okay. She was probably worried sick but trusted, despite her worry, both in God and in Joseph’s ability to protect her daughter.
Then at last their return. Did she see them far off and run to the edge of town to wait -- maybe humming a happy little tune, her arms itching to hold Him, her beautiful grandson Jesus. This would have been her first embrace of this wondrous Child of Mary and Joseph. Her Jesus, older now but so handsome. Did she bring Him around to all her friends in joyful pride? Did they all ask to hold Him while she looked on in joy? Did she tell Mary and Joseph what a good job they had done?
She stopped by Mary’s door often after that and perhaps watched Jesus when Mary needed to make a quick trip to the well. She gave advice when Jesus got sick. She made Him his favorite sweets when he came over to see her. She was able to tell Jesus stories of when His Mother Mary was a little girl -- all those stories of which every child can’t get enough. What she liked to eat, the games she liked to play. As God, He would have known all this, but He would have delighted in every word because He loved His grandmother’s voice telling those stories over and over.
And when she died, I am sure Jesus wept and held her hand and told her not to fear -- that He would come for her when His mission was fulfilled. He would seek her out, He promised. That Jesus had a grandmother He dearly loved is such a lovely thought.
St. Anne was a good wife, a good mother, and a loving grandmother. What a rich and full life she must have lived in a little obscure town in the hills...just being those three things as best she could.
Good St Anne. I am sorry I have not thought of her much until now. I can almost hear her say, “Oh child, no worries. Let me tell you some stories about Jesus when He was little.” Oh what stories those would be.
St. Anne, pray for grandmothers everywhere.