St. Joseph: Witness and Mentor During the Christmas/Epiphany Season

By Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D.Min.

 

St. Joseph is one of the patron saints of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. A careful read through our MHSH archives reverberates with attention St. Joseph receives through the gradual unfolding of MHSH history. Our prayer manual contains a beautiful prayer to St. Joseph.

 

 

 

Dear St. Joseph, man of God.

You, whose heart was always on fire

with love, and whose life was a

constant prayer and continual

contemplation, teach us the

perfection of the interior life.

Teach us how to model our hearts in

accord with the hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Teach us how to live and labor for God

and our neighbor in the faithful

observance of our vows and commitments.

May we, after having honored and

imitated you on earth, eternally sing

with you, the mercies of Jesus, and

Mary.

St. Joseph, pray for us. Amen.

During these days of the Christmas/Epiphany Season we are reconnected with the two direct solitary references to St. Joseph by name in all of scripture. He does not speak. He listens. Both times it is in a dream that he encounters a call. Scriptures simply indicates he acts upon the call within the dream. He is the silent one in the crèche’ scene but the strength of his presence is the anchor for the early years of Jesus and Mary’s life.

St. Joseph demonstrates the power of listening, silence and acting upon the inner voice that calls us each and every day of our lives.

Pope St. John Paul II wrote an Apostolic Exhortation “Redemptoris Custos: On the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph in the Life of Christ and of the Church.” The Pope writes: “He (Joseph) took her (Mary) in all the mystery of her motherhood. He took her together with the Son who had come into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. In this way he showed a readiness of will like Mary’s with regard to what God asked of him through the angel.” (#3) Through moments of ambiguity and unsettled questions, the Holy Family’s exodus into Egypt, and the remaining silent years, Joseph represents one who is open in deep listening to the movement of God and with complete confidence responds in faith.

Pope Francis’s pre-Christmas (December 23, 2019) reflection on the vocation of St. Joseph said: “The example of this meek and wise man calls us to raise our gaze and press ahead. The surprising logic of God isn’t about making calculations of what people will accept, but of opening their hearts “to new horizons, to Christ and his word.”

As Mission Helpers move forward into a new period of our history, we discover the silent, firm faith and presence of St. Joseph modeling for us the way into the future.

The “Sticky Fingers of Divine Providence” – A Refection for the Fourth Week of Lent

By Sister Jane Geiger, MHSH

[2 Chr 36:15-16, 19-23; Ps 137:1-6; Jn 3:14-21]

“Gutsy” might best describe Nicodemus:  gutsy, but not stupid. It seems he had to meet with Jesus, but he took care to come in the dark so fewer people would see—although, as part of a small population, he certainly knew that even the night has eyes and word travels fast.

So his status as a respected religious leader might have been jeopardized by his visit to a questionable “wonder worker.”  Nevertheless, he went, impelled by a hunger to understand.

Cyrus, too, seems daring. Yes, he may have wanted to deport a troublesome ethnic group, but they were also one of his main sources of labor (why does this sound familiar?), and their exodus left the country in significant need of workers.  Credit—or blame?—is attributed to God for inspiring Cyrus’ decree.

In our time, God gets less credit or blame for the decisions of humans.  Only when we look back from some decades’ distance do we perceive the sticky fingerprints of divine providence and mutter to ourselves, “So that’s where God was going,” or “So that’s why that evil was allowed to happen.”

We need to learn and relearn, all through the span of our days, that life can be drawn even from darkest death.  We need to be patient, giving God time to draw dazzling good out of deep evil.

–What “deep evil” do you see—in our world or in yourself—that you are hoping God can heal?

–How might your patient waiting and working toward that healing be in itself a work of God?

–Do you see any sticky fingerprints as you look back?