Beyond our focus on Mary and her sinless nature from the moment of her conception, on this day, I also like to remember her parents, Joachim and Anne. It’s as much their feast day, too! The couple had been distraught having been childless for many years. Finally, Anne received a heavenly message—like her daughter would years later—that she would bear a child. The angel instructed Anne to meet her husband in Jerusalem to tell him the good news. Several artists, including the prolific 16th-century woodcut master, Albrecht Dürer, have depicted this apocryphal meeting of Mary’s parents at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem. Dürer shows the two framed by the archway of the Gate and locked in a sweet embrace, Anne almost collapsing into her husband’s arms, relieved they would no longer be alone. Behind them, the townspeople continue about their business, coming and going, barely noticing the couple’s intimate moment of quiet joy. In Hebrew, the name of Anne and Joachim’s meeting place, the Golden Gate, is the “Gate of Mercy.”
God’s divine mercy is all around us, taking place in quiet ways, changing lives and changing the world. How often do miraculous, merciful, life-giving moments happen all about us, and we may not even notice?