Cardinal: Faith Is Greatest Gift Parents Can Give Children

Cardinal Angelo Comastri Reflects on Jesus' Grandparents

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By Sergio Mora

ROME, JULY 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Virtually nothing is known of Sts. Anne and Saint Joachim; however, seeing their daughter Mary, one can imagine how they were. At home, children learn from their parents and, hearing the Magnificat, one can understand how much Mary had learned at a time in which knowledge was handed down orally. 

This was the reflection offered by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, in a homily on the saints' feast Thursday, given in the church of Saint Anne in the Vatican.

The cardinal recalled that “the Gospels do not even give us the names of Mary’s parents; we know them from an ancient tradition that goes back to the second century and which undoubtedly stems from the apostolic period.” There is very little information, “but this is beautiful; it [means we have] to intuit how a family is by looking at the children. Looking at Mary we can understand who her parents were and know their spiritual characteristics,” he reflected.

In “Mary’s yes, which was so beautiful, so clear and sincere, generous and faithful, we see that she had learned at home to put God in the first place, following the example of her parents. Mary had heard the words of the Bible where it says that the Lord is one; love the Lord with all your heart and all your mind," the cardinal said.

And he pointed out that there is another light that shines in Mary and that, in an indirect way, reveals to us the characteristics of her family, and it is the Magnificat, in which Mary praises and thanks God because he deigned benignantly to liberate his people.

“Many wonder how she was able to pronounce such beautiful words,” said Cardinal Comastri, adding that, “perhaps, the Magnificat is the most beautiful prophecy of the whole New Testament and it is a whole inlay of biblical quotations. This means that in Mary’s home her parents repeated Scripture very often, and given that there were no books, or recorders, everything was learned by heart.”

Mary makes us understand that she is blessed not because her home became a villa after the Annunciation of the Angel, or her clothes were dyed in purple. Before God these things don’t count, but Mary’s heart burst with joy thanks to God the Savior, who looked upon his handmaid, because whoever does not have God in his home is a poor fellow even if he has gold everywhere.

Cardinal Comastri pointed out how Mary at a very young age, at about 16, “had the courage to give an impressive prophecy: at that time Herod was in command, Augustus governed the whole empire from Rome, yet Mary announced 'He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly.'"

And the cardinal stressed that Mary learned all this at home. Hence, he invited the faithful to pray so that this style, this transmission of the faith by parents to their children, by grownups to little ones returns to our homes, because the greatest gift we can give is to transmit the faith.

How can parents find the way to transmit the faith in a world as agitated as ours is today? ZENIT asked His Eminence. “When a person has the light within, he illumines others. Saint Teresa points out that a burning coal warms, even if it is put in a corner. Today the times are difficult; at times it seems we are in a corner, but be at peace, if we have the light we transmit it."