Jul 26 – Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of the Virgin Mary
By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary’s father and mother come to us through legend and tradition. It was the parents of Mary who nurtured Mary, taught her, brought her up to be a worthy Mother of God. It was their teaching that led her to respond to God’s request with faith, “Let it be done to me as you will.” It was their example of parenting that Mary must have followed as she brought up her own son, Jesus. It was their faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed her to stand by the cross as her son was crucified and still believe. Such parents can be examples and models for all parents.
“No, it is you Lord. O our God, you are our hope, since it is you who do all this.”
I was part of the Synodal Assembly back in June this year, sent as part of the ministry I am in. At the end of the 2-day Assembly, we had identified and prioritised a list of 7 key themes which will inform the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan for the decades to come. In his closing remarks, Cardinal-elect William Goh (do we call him “Cardie William” from now on?) gave us a poignant reminder. He reminded us that the list of priorities the Assembly had identified did not constitute the congregation’s wish-list to the Church. Quite the contrary in fact. Instead, it represented the Holy Spirit’s list of priorities to the flock in Singapore, on where it needed to focus on in order to heal, restore, transform and redeem itself. It was not man’s ‘orders’ to the Church, it was God’s ‘orders’ to His people.
Allow me to use this analogy to illustrate a point. For those of you who work in project management or consulting, there is often this person who holds the role of the Resource Manager (aka, the RM). The RM’s job is to stay on top of the progress of all the current and upcoming projects. To know what resources are needed to properly support projects successfully. Resources for which project, when, where and how to deploy them. His job is to know what types of skills and capabilities are/would be needed, who had those skills, whether these individuals were available and at the appropriate time, when these individuals can be deployed to the projects online and on tap. The RM’s job is to ensure that all assets and resources are optimally deployed so that there are no valuable, revenue-generating resources left idling unproductively ‘on the bench’. In the spiritual realm, the RM would be likened to the Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit that knows the entirety of God’s plans and His will. From since before the beginning of time and long after its ending. The Holy Spirit stays on top of each moment, each person, each situation, each challenge and each milestone, in the project called the Salvation of Man. He ensures that all the precious resources created by God (aka, all of us) with our individual talents, charisms, circumstances, strengths (as well as weaknesses), are deployed at the right time, to the right place, to fulfil the right mission and to achieve the right result. The result being not only the fulfilment of His plan, but also the salvation of all our souls. God does what is best for Him. He also does what is best for us. His RM sees to it that the triangle of project management – achieving the right results, at the right time and at the right cost, is achieved. And the Holy Spirit, God’s Divine RM – usually does a pretty good. Actually, He does the perfect job. So, for all the times when our lives and this crazy world seems to be spiraling out of control, when evil seems to be triumphant and good seems to be on permanent siesta, when Satan seems to be reigning supreme and God seems to be hiding under a rock somewhere, let us remember that the Divine RM is still on the job, that He is still on top of everything and at the right time, the right place and the at the right ‘cost’ – all will be well. All will be executed – to perfection.
St Joaquim and St Anne must have perhaps felt that God’s plan was insane, when their little girl Mary, became pregnant at 15. Before being wedded. They must have looked at Mary with eyes that asked “How on earth could you do this to us?”, “Didn’t we teach you better?”, “How will we ever show our faces to everyone, ever again?”, “How could God do this to our only child – such an angel of a child – till this happened!!”, “We curse the day, Joseph ever met Mary and for allowing them to be betrothed”. “Is there even a God? If there is, then He must be a merciless and hopelessly useless one to allow this to happen!”. They must have wanted to tear Joseph’s hair out, to punch him in the face and throw him off a cliff – if only that could make Mary unpregnant again and restore everything to what it was.
And whilst all this was happening – the Divine RM was doing His thing. He was managing, juggling, balancing. He was moving the bits and pieces, the events, circumstances, leaps and steps of His Divine Plan. He was executing His resource plan – to perfection. He was preparing Mary, not for a life of shame and humiliation, misery and defeat but of glory, of divinity, of majesty and of victory. He was preparing Mary to be the Mother of God!
The Divine RM is now working on a billion other projects – us! And He will deliver all these projects too. On time and on target. On God’s time and on God’s target.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)
Prayer: Father, help us in the moments when things do not go our way and we are thrown into darkness and despair and we lose sight, faith and hope in your plan for us.
Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for the Holy Spirit, who never loses sight of Your plan for us and executes that plan to perfection in our lives.