Desire To Be Like Joseph: 60th Jubilee Reflection

 

60th Jubilarians

60th Jubilee Reflection by S. Ruth Stuckel

 Joseph is a faithful spouse, a contemplative in action, for two reasons: 1) he listened to his dreams. Dreams are considered one of God’s ways to communicate or one of the Holy Spirit’s ways to inspire us; St. Joseph listened and then obeyed the messages of his dreams and followed their directives. The second reason Joseph is a faithful spouse, a contemplative in action, is because he lived the beatitudes. He put into action his love of God and his love for people.

The Gospel today relates three dreams of Joseph. The first is “take Mary as your wife.” Trusting God, Joseph faced the traumatic command of marrying a pregnant woman and married Mary. He carried out God’s wishes. In the second dream, Joseph is told, “take Mary and the child and go to Egypt.” Trusting God, Joseph left his homeland with Mary and the child and went to Egypt. The third dream of Joseph’s ask him to return to his homeland with Mary and the child. Joseph returned to Nazareth where he lived with Mary and Jesus as a family. Thus, Joseph is a faithful spouse, a contemplative in action because he listened to his dreams and then followed through in obeying God’s wishes.  

The Epistle depicts JESUS preaching the Beatitudes of poverty of spirit, purity of heart, meekness, and mercy. Perhaps, Jesus first learned these beatitudes, these ways of being, as a boy at the side of Joseph. These Beatitudes describe perfectly Joseph’s character. Joseph lived poverty of spirit in totally trusting God’s divine providence throughout his life, whether in Bethlehem, Egypt, or Nazareth. He understood that life, one’s capabilities and all the circumstances of life are gifts from an infinitely generous and loving God.  Joseph lived purity of heart because he focused totally on fulfilling God’s will, of having his will always in union with God’s will. Joseph lived meekness by remaining calm under unforeseen, unfortunate, tragic and traumatic events and situations. He was able to recognize the dignity and worth of all persons: inn keepers, Egyptians and his neighbors in Nazareth and he treated them accordingly.  . Finally, Joseph was merciful. He was kind, thoughtful, and forgiving. He held no grudges and sought no revenge. He understood and accepted other’s weaknesses and limitations. Thus, because Joseph lived the beatitudes, Joseph is a faithful spouse, a contemplative in action.

 

We, celebrating our 60th Jubilee, desire to be like Joseph, contemplatives in action. We strive to be faithful by listening and following our dreams and by living the beatitudes. We have responded to three dreams or calls or inspirations: the first call for us was God’s call to become a Sister of St. Joseph. We each followed this call and entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Louis Province. From then until the implementation of Vatican II, our second call came through our superiors. Their listening, discerning and missioning us represented God’s voice and will for us. We knew we were doing God’s will by obeying the directives of our superiors with regard to community living and ministry. Our third call came, not through our superiors, but through our own listening and discernment. Vatican II awakened us to the abiding presence of our infinitely compassionate God. We now had the responsibility to listen and discern God’s will for ourselves in light of our community commitments. As a result of Vatican II, listening and obeying our dreams took on a much broader meaning that required of us a more mature, committed love.

We celebrating our 60th Jubilee, strive to be faithful like Joseph by also living the Beatitudes. In the first half of our lives, we gladly gave our lives away through our ministries of education, social work, health care, and spiritual direction. Indirectly, we advocated for equality and justice for all peoples. We thought of ourselves as Christ’s hands and feet, voice, and ears. We understood that our gifts from God were to be used generously for God’s glory. We thoroughly enjoyed spending ourselves for the sake of others. Our struggles with boredom, disillusionment, resentment and/or disappointments only strengthened our commitment and deepened our love. Our struggles, while testing our resolve, provided opportunities to grow in meekness and mercy. These years of active ministry were full and rich, exciting and gratifying.  We rejoiced in belonging to the Sisters of St. Joseph and in furthering the mission of Jesus.

Our challenge now in the later years of our lives is to let go and to let God. Our challenge is to grow old graciously. From being very active, with satisfying ministries, where our gifts were welcomed and appreciated, we are to transition to a quieter time of life, where our activity is principally prayer and witness. We are to share our wisdom learned from our many years of committed mature love. Now is the time to listen more deeply and to truly be elders, women of wisdom. Now is the time to be the presence of God for others. Now is the time to remind others that God is with us no matter what our situation is, that all will be well, that God loves us infinitely, unconditionally, and is infinitely generous and merciful.  As we experience our limitations, our diminishments of mind and body, we are to learn to suffer, to receive, and to be grateful for the least kindness shown us. Now is the time to live the beatitudes of poverty of spirit, purity of heart, meekness and mercy. Let us with confidence answer the challenge to grow old graciously and “To Let Go and to Let God.”

May all of us, Sisters, Associates and Friends, be true to who we are called to be and become. May we respond to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and move always toward love of God and love of neighbor without distinction with humility and charity, with an orientation toward excellence, tempered by gentleness, joy, and peace. May we be like Joseph, faithful contemplatives in action. 

 Click here to read the 50th Jubilee reflection by S. Linda Straub

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