Let us praise illustrious people,
our ancestors in their successive generations.
Here is a list of generous men
whose good works have not been forgotten.
In their descendants there remains
a rich inheritance born of them.
Their descendants stand by the covenants
and, thanks to them, so do their children's children.
Their offspring will last for ever,
their glory will not fade.
Their bodies have been buried in peace,
and their name lives on for all generations.
The peoples will proclaim their wisdom,
the assembly will celebrate their praises.
The Lord swore an oath to David;
he will not go back on his word:
'A son, the fruit of your body,
will I set upon your throne.' (R./)
For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling:
'This is my resting-place for ever,
here have I chosen to live. (R./)
'There David's stock will flower:
I will prepare a lamp for my anointed.
I will cover his enemies with shame
but on him my crown shall shine.' (R./)
Then the disciples came and asked him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" He answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: 'You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn -- and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
For a vivid 2nd-century account of the Virgin Mary's parents and her earliest days, see the Protevangelium of James. This devotional text is worth reading on the feast. While the account is clearly legendary, formed in deliberate parallel to some biblical prototypes, and borrowing themes from the Gospel Infancy Narratives, it probably contains elements of early oral tradition, to help us form a mental picture of the kind of family life lived by Jesus' grandparents. The childlessness and anguish of the elderly couple, Joachim and Anna, are vividly described in the opening paragraphs:
"Joachim was very grieved, and went to consult the registers of the twelve tribes of the people, saying: "I will see whether I am the only one not to have procreated in lsrael." He searched and found that all the righteous in lsrael had raised up posterity. He called to mind about the patriarch Abraham, how at the very end God granted him a son, Isaac. And Joachim was very grieved, and did not come into his wife's presence but he retired to the desert, and there pitched his tent, and fasted forty days and forty nights, saying to himself: "I will take neither food nor drink until the Lord my God looks upon me, and prayer will be my food and drink."
Anna his wife mourned twice as much, and doubly lamented, saying: "I will grieve for being a widow as well as being childless." But ... though she was still very grieved, she put off her mourning garments and washed her head, and put on her finery and went down to the garden to walk. There she saw a laurel tree, under which she sat and said this prayer to the Lord, "O God of our fathers, bless me and hear my prayer, as you blessed the womb of Sarah, and gave her a son, Isaac."
As preparation for the homily, one might browse the rest of the Protevangelium, which was read with devotion by many generations of Christians, to indicate the special circumstances surrounding Our Lady's birth, according to pious early tradition.