Friday 24th July.
Today’s reflection from Rev James Hair
FOR THE FEAST OF ANNE AND JOACHIM (Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Readings: Ecclesiasticus 44:1,10-15 and Matthew 13:16-17
Ann and Joachim won’t get a look in this year because their day (26th July) falls on a Sunday. Normally they are relegated to the second division because they are not mentioned in the gospels, but the memory of them reaches as far back as the second century. The grandparents of Our Lord.
So I want to use their day to reflect on grandparents and being older, and how that’s feeling in a rapidly changing world.
But let’s start with a bit of irreverent light relief.
Mary (on her phone): “Hi Mum. I have a favour to ask. Do you remember my friend Salome? I was at school with her. Well, she’s greeting married at Sephorris next week. You know what she’s like, it’s going to last a week…..”
Ann. “Yes…what are you asking?”
Mary: “Well Joseph and I were wondering whether you might have Jesus for the week. He is out of nappies, talking a lot and not too bad with the terrible twos.”
Some year ago when I told my spiritual director that all being well I was soon to be a grandfather, he nodded ruefully and said, “It will be crossing a threshold!” And he was right.
Crossing a threshold, a liminal moment, a time of transition to pick up on last week’s conversation on this site.
In his lectures on Mark’s Gospel, Fr Richard Rohr commented on how many times Jesus crosses and re-crosses the Lake of Galilee, a state of constant journeying into new territory and crossing thresholds.
It seems like December 31 was the end of an old year and old way of life. Two months later we were and still are trying to manage change. Crossing a threshold is an experience, ore than just an event, it’s a process.
My Christian my head tells me that living the Christian life is about a willingness to follow where I am led, but my Benedictine Christian heart cherishes the Benedictine virtue of stability, staying in one place and not roaming around seeking more diversions and distractions.
Stability is something to do with history and wisdom. Some years ago, as mental health chaplain I used to do one session a week in a day hospital for those with onset dementia and Alzheimer’s. I recall the ex- police guard officer for Mrs T, the lady who had flown Spitfires, the lady who did two jobs throughout the war years to keep her sons fed, the lady who lost two brothers in action in one week…….the stories were told many times, they were liminal moments and times. What struck me was that that in the telling the stories of their past they were more at ease in the present situation. I have no idea why that should be so.
Somehow it seems to connect with the gospel for this day, “happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear”.
The blessedness of perception when we walk with Christ. He never promised a walk in the park, only a walk to the cross, and I guess that’s all connected with loss, not my words but His!
Part of the grief process for us with the eyes of faith is learning what it means to see with the eyes of Christ, not praying for a new normal nor a return to what has already gone, but for the grace and spiritual resilience to hold onto the vision of the Kingdom which some us glimpsed briefly.
Here’s a question. How many thresholds have you already crossed? How did that transition shape your beliefs, your faith?
“Blessed are your eyes because they see….”
Excuse me Lord, a blessing, but…………. when the blind were given their sight they went on their way rejoicing. I feel blessed to see what you see , but sometimes I feel like a child trying to peep through my fingers because what I see brings tears to my eyes, just like yours. Amen
Hymn: O God our help in ages past