Tuesday - Third Reading
God is all love, and all loving; infinite in love, and infinite in loving. We may truly say - God is love. He makes known his love to those who love, and all things speak to them of the love of God. See how great was his love for his People, the People of Israel. He delivered them from the Egyptians, and led them out from captivity, into a fruitful land, that they might live there in peace and prosperity. It was this prosperity that was envied by the Devil, and in his hatred for all that was loved by God, he tempted God's People, and by his deceits, led them time and and again into sin.
They had the Law of Moses; they were the People whom God had made his own, through his covenant with Abraham; yet they fell into idolatry and worshipped false gods. God looked on them and found there among them some who still served him with true faith and love, following his law. To strengthen these followers of his, amid the dangers that surrounded them, to confirm them in their faith and love, he raised up among them the Prophets, men who came not only for the help of God's own, but also to rescue those who had made themselves enemies of God.
In time, like the mountain streams which join, and then join to other streams as they descend, increasing ever in volume and power, carrying all before them, down at last to meet other waters and in the lower lands form into the great rivers, the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of his Prophets, and first one, then another, then more raised their voices, to speak as he inspired them, till their sound filled the ears of many, to comfort and console, to call back and restore. The sweetest sound of their voices was that news of joy - that God himself would be born of a Virgin, to make amends for the evil which Satan, through Adam, had caused to man; that he would redeem man, and rescue him from his misery, restoring to him eternal life.
Joy too, that God the Father so willed this redemption of man that he would not spare even his only-begotten Son: that the Son so willed to obey the Father, that he would take to himself our human flesh: that the Holy Spirit, though inseparable from the Father, willed to be sent by the Son. The Prophets knew that the Son of God would come into this world, to be light in our darkness, brighter than the sun at dawn, to proclaim God's justice and love. But they knew he would not come unheralded. As the morning star heralds the sun, they foresaw that a star would rise in Israel, fairest of all the stars, in brightness and beauty surpassed only by the sun itself. This star with the Virgin Mary, who would be Mother of Christ, her love surpassed only by the love of God, her heart ever responding to the will of God.
This news was given by God to his Prophets, to console them in their labour of teaching, and encourage them in their trials.
For they grieved at the pride and sinfulness of the People, who neglected the Law of Moses, rejected God's love, and incurred his anger. But they rejoiced, Mary, in you, foreseeing that God, that giver of all law, would receive back to his grace those who had sinned, for the sake of your humility and holiness of life. They grieved to see the Temple empty and desolate, and the worship of God neglected.
They rejoiced, Mary, to foresee the creation of that holy temple, your pure body, where God himself would love to reside. They grieved at the destruction of the gates and the walls of the holy city, broken by armies, invaded by sin. They rejoiced, Mary, to foresee how you would stand firm, against all attack, a strong citadel where Christ would arm himself, the gate through which he would come forth to his conflict with the Devil and his own. To the Prophets, as to the Patriarchs, your coming, Mary, was a thing of wonder and joy.
Wednesday - First Reading
Before God made known his law to Moses, man had to live without a rule of life. Those who loved God, did what they thought was God's will. Those who rejected his love, and did not fear to do so, acted as they chose. To dispel their ignorance, God in his goodness made known his law, teaching first the love of God, then love for others, then his will concerning marriage, its holiness and binding force, its purpose in his plan - the growth of his people. The union of man and woman in a holy marriage was most pleasing to God, for he willed to choose the child of such a union as the Mother of Christ. The eagle, flying above the earth, looks down at the trees, and choosing with its sharp eyes the tallest tree, one firmly rooted to withstand the storms, one that cannot be climbed, one that nothing can fall on, builds there its next, God sees, with penetrating gaze, all things, both present and future.
He looked therefore among all men and women, from the beginning to the end of time, for a husband and wife fit for the bearing of the child of his choice. He found none so worthy as Joachim and Anne, who lived together in holiness and a love for each other born of their love for him. It was to them he entrusted the one who was to be Mother of his Son. She was to be, as it were, the eagle's nest, in which he could find protection and shelter. Joachim and Anne were the tall tree in which this nest would be built, firmly rooted in a union based on the love and honour of God; the branches of this tree their lifelong thought for the will of God, and their desire for a child, not for their own sake, but to beget one who would grow to love God and serve him as they themselves did.
The tallness of this tree, beyond the reach of the winds, and higher than all around, was the height of holiness which Joachim and Anne had attained, beyond the attacks of Satan, untroubled, except by the thought that God's honour was many times assailed by the sins of many, with no thought of honour or worldly possessions, no pride or ambition to move them from their selfless love of God.
God knew that for the birth of the Mother of Christ, none holier could be found than Joachim and Anne. What a treasure you held, blessed Anne, while she who was to be Mother of God rested in your womb. How precious to God that seed of Mary's life in your womb, more precious than the offspring of all men on earth. Anne became God's treasure-house, keeping safe this most precious thing, this seed of so precious a life.
God saw it and watched over it, for as his Son was to say - where one's treasure is, there is one's heart. The Angels looked on this treasure with joy, knowing how precious it was to God their Creator. It was a holy and blessed day, to be honoured by all, the day when this precious seed was first sown. God himself and the Angels greeted that day with great rejoicing.