Food from an angel

Daily Reading for July 26 • Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood in front of her, saying, “Anna, Anna, the Lord God has heard your prayer. You will conceive and give birth and your child will be spoken of everywhere people live.” And Anna said, “As the Lord God lives, whether I give birth to either a male or a female child, I will bring it as an offering to the Lord my God and it will be a servant to him all the days of its life.”

Next, two angels came, saying to her, “Look your husband Joachim is coming with his flocks.” For an angel of the Lord had gone down to Joachim, saying, “Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God has heard your prayer. Go down from here. Look, your wife Anna has conceived in her womb.” Immediately, Joachim went down and called the shepherds, telling them, “Bring ten lambs without spot or blemish here to me; the ten lambs will be for the Lord God. Bring twelve tender calves; the twelve calves will be for the priests and the elders. And bring one hundred male goats; the one hundred male goats will be for all the people.” Then, Joachim came with his flocks. Anna was standing at the gate. When she saw Joachim coming with his flocks, Anna ran and wrapped herself around his neck, saying, “Now I know that the Lord God has blessed me greatly. See, the widow is no longer a widow and the childless woman has conceived in her womb.” And Joachim rested for the first day he was home. . . .

And his wife’s pregnancy came to term. After nine months, Anna gave birth and she said to the midwife, “What is it?” The midwife said, “A girl.” Anna said, “My soul exalts this day.” And she put her baby to bed . . . and gave her the name Mary. . . .When the child’s first birthday came, Joachim held a great celebration. He invited the high priests and the priests and the Sanhedrin and the whole nation of Israel. And Joachim brought the child to the priests and they blessed her, saying, “God of our ancestors, bless this child and give her name eternal fame among all generations.” And all the people said, “Let it happen, amen.” And he brought the child to the high priests and they blessed her, saying, “Exalted God, look upon this child and give her a final blessing which will not be succeeded.” . . .

When the child turned three, Joachim said, “Let’s call the pure women of the Hebrews. Let them take up lamps and light them so that the child will not turn back and her heart will never be led away from the temple of the Lord.” And they did these things until they went up to the temple of the Lord. And the priest welcomed her. Kissing her, he blessed her and said, “The Lord God has magnified your name for all generations; through you the Lord will reveal deliverance to the children of Israel in the last days.” And he set her down on the third step of the altar and the Lord God poured grace upon her. She danced triumphantly with her drinks and every house in Israel loved her. And her parents went down, marveling at and praising and glorifying the Lord God because the child had not turned back to look at them. While Mary was in the temple of the Lord, she was fed like a dove and received food from the hand of an angel.

From The Infancy Gospel of James, in a translation based on the Greek text printed in Ronald F. Hock’s The Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas.

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