The oldest faith formation classroom is on the lap of a grandparent. Grandparents bind the extended family together through more than holiday celebrations or gift-giving to spoil their grandchildren. They are the models of later adult life. They are the wisdom figures in the room. They are often the first catechists with the parents for a new grandchild.
Jesus himself had grandparents. Today, the Church celebrates the feast day of Sts. Joachim and Anne. They are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and are the grandparents of Jesus. They are not explicitly mentioned in the canonical Gospels. The names of “Joachim” and “Anne” have come to us through non-canonical Christian Scripture.
Although they are not mentioned in Scripture, we can come to know them through our imagination. In the Spiritual Exercises retreat, Ignatius advocates for a similar method to come to know Jesus during the hidden years of his life (from the Presentation in the Temple to his Baptism) which are not mentioned in the canonical Gospels. What is not written down, we have the freedom to imagine what the unmentioned years and even persons were like.
We can imagine Jesus sitting on the lap of Joachim or Anne when Mary and Joseph came to visit. We can see Joachim and Anne delighting in how Jesus played on the floor, or spoke his first words. Jesus playing reminds Joachim and Anne of when Mary was a little girl. Our imagination may continue to paint pictures of Joachim and Anne where they are no longer obscure figures in Salvation History. We can come to understand how they are essential characters who shape Mary into becoming the mother of God. We can dream how they even might have shaped Jesus.
How did or do your grandparents shape you?