Imagined letters from Jesus’ grandma, Anne of Nazareth:
Dear Cousin Elizabeth,
Congratulations on the birth of your son! Mary tells me John is a handsome and healthy child. Joachim and I are very happy for you! And thank you for welcoming our daughter into your home. We were, of course, confused, but we have come to believe, as you immediately did, that she is telling us the truth and that we anticipate the birth of our Messiah, praise be the Lord! I only hope she and Joseph will return from travel to Bethlehem for the census soon. I am afraid her time will come and I won’t be there to help her.
We hear such terrible news from Bethlehem! We are told that King Herod suspected the Messiah was born in that tiny town. Mary and Joseph should have been back weeks ago. She surely has borne her child by now. Our only hope is that they escaped and are hiding. I know I must trust God that he will keep his Son and my daughter safe, but oh, how I am plagued with fear.
Just when I am about to be a grandmother for the first time, I must pray that our baby Messiah stay hidden. It is a small sacrifice we are asked to make to not yet hold him in our arms. If we were younger we would go search for them ourselves. Of course, you have shown me what women our age are capable of! Dearest cousin, you are not far from Bethlehem. I pray that Mary made her way to your home. If so, please send news with the next caravan. Not knowing pains my heart.
We too heard whispers from Bethlehem of the terrible tragedy of the little innocents, but also amazing tales of angels in the sky speaking to the shepherds of a child in a manger, and even of wealthy Magi bringing him vast riches and doing him homage. Of course, you know how tales grow, but deep in my soul I believe there must be some truth to their stories.
I have heard today about an infant who was brought for his circumcision to the temple, causing a holy man and woman to declare that they have seen the Messiah. They said his name was Jesus. Surely, this must have been your grandson! Zachariah is studying scripture to see if the prophets can offer you insight.
Great news! A merchant has brought word that our three are safe, though I know not where they have gone for they feared the wrong people would overhear. Praise the Father of Abraham and rescuer of Isaac! I hope they are far from the reach of this king! I worry what they will do for money, though Joachim assures me a good carpenter like Joseph can find work wherever he goes.
I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear of sweet Mary’s safety and that Joseph and the Child are well. I know, now that I’ve become a mother, that I would walk to the ends of the world—or even Egypt—to keep our little John safe, though I hope the three found shelter much closer than that.
We know we must be patient. We continue to pray that we will soon hold our grandchild and give him our blessing. I imagine us teaching him to read the Torah, like one of my dearest memories of Mary. For now, I will prepare for them so that when they return, even if they arrive years from now in the tatters of refugees, all will be ready. We will wait, always in mind of how the child grows. Lord willing, my faith and hope will grow, too.
After all this time I rejoice to tell you the beloved Holy Family sleeps safely in our home! All are well. They will rest and then join the next caravan to return to you. Lord willing, the little Messiah will run to your outstretched arms very soon.
Like our imagined Anne, we prepare for Christ’s coming. When the Holy Child (or any child) comes to us, let’s open our arms with faith, hope, and joy.