Good morning good neighbors!

My name is Sharon Howell and I get to be one of the jubilarians this year and I am extremely excited and I want to start by saying that part of my remarks this morning about holding things in tension; and the first thing I want to say to you is, as you see me walking up here with a laptop, for anybody who is watching from the livestream they are roaring, anybody in this room who knows me, because I try to stay as far away from technology when something important is happening as possible but I have to hold intention the fact that I couldn’t get my act together enough well enough to print this thing out this week so got to try to make this work.

Opening in gratitude with dear Neighbors, I think my co-jubilarians will agree with me as Jill started out this morning that we are surrounded by forebears who brought us forward not necessarily just sister, inclusive of the people who brought us here; and we come here and gratitude, it is a community act to produce jubilarians. I just want to say amen and thank you for that and some of you in this room or your children knew me before I even began the Journey of trying to be a Sister of Saint Joseph so this has been something that’s been going on for a long time and I am grateful for the family support, the generational support. Speaking personally and I want to acknowledge that Father John was my first supervisor in a first real job after I became a sister of Saint Joseph.

I am grateful and it is good to be with you. Gratitude to the Liturgy committee and all for helping us get started today; to all who prepared and are making the sacrifice to make everything so lovely.

It is extremely important that we hold some things in tension and today we are celebrating the fourth Sunday in Lent and the feast of Saint Joseph and there’s not necessarily any one way of holding things in tension.  As I reflected in our my preparation I want to share a few things with you and see what you think; first of all, I want to ask you if you’ve ever had the experience of encountering something or hearing of a new experience or hearing some news or something that brings tears to your eyes not enough for them to well over and start being emotional, but just they’re right there and yet at the same time you know ‘no we’re not crying, nope this is the truth and yes keep going’.  Sometimes you have to make that decision in two seconds.  So, I want to offer you as that as an image for holding some things in tension.

First of all let’s talk  about Samuel having to go down to where Jesse and his family.  Israel was real excited about having a king but I’m not sure that God was particularly excited about them having a king; but that that was so important to them that he let subsidiarity rule; and things Saul however was not working out too well; and so, he needed to try to find somebody else: I imagine that brought a few a tears to God’s eyes. I’m sure Samuel wasn’t real excited either, however, he went to Jesse and his sons. What when someone looks like or how they appear or what they say isn’t necessarily what calls for leadership and so God let Samuel know that the right person wasn’t there yet and make sure they get there; Samuel did that; and he said the party will not continue until this person, David, is there. That had to be really hard on the community to wait. David is the composer of our Psalm 23 today; he is said to have been under duress as he composed.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he tells the people that they are light that their encounter was Christ is causing them to be light and to act accordingly; and so is Samuel’s anointing of David.  With their behavior he’s bringing things into Focus Guided by God’s work.

On this fourth Sunday we have an opportunity to reflect on John’s gospel now the man born blind in this gospel does not ask for anything he is there doing what he does; and Jesus and his disciples go into Jerusalem, they see him there they probably have seen him there before.  Jesus is much more aware of his own light and he even says that ‘I am the light of life, and if I am living a light of light that a life of light’ then I need to be acting like it’. He’s been acting like it for several weeks now leading up to this, so he’s in major trouble walking in on this situation. Things are getting more intense in his ministry; to make that choice is wonderful for him to help the man; now can be more independent, his family can have less responsibility, but it also puts them all under scrutiny; they’re all under surveillance now not just Jesus, not just his disciples, the Pharisees want to know who are all these people defying the Sabbath law?

It turns out the blind man does see the wonders of what has happened for him, he holds his ground with his new gift; his parents recognize that this is important, and they stand behind him and they all in truth walk away from the Pharisees; this man truly does recognize that something holy something sacred something important has happened here and he wants to focus his light on the next steps.

I also like in this reading that the disciples asked Jesus what does this man do or what did his parents do that he is blind from birth and Jesus said. ‘he did they didn’t do anything’. Jesus was challenging how people come to be born and live with disability, all the creation of life in God.

Finally, I’m just going to add my additional reflection on Joseph as a man, guided by light, God fearing man, a dreamer of dreams. Joseph met deep losses with deepest care perhaps not immediately but day by day.  Joseph lived with tension. He lived with the fact that his life was going to be quite different with his hometown sweetheart, Mary, than he literally ever dreamed would be the case; however, his love for her and for his own God, plus her God and the messenger angel made it possible for him to stand up and continue in the light to be the man God created him to be and to usher God’s light into the world in the person of their son, Jesus.

Meeting losses, meeting confusions, standing in the light facing truth; ‘gotta keep moving’, day by day may we continue to live in the light. Let the tears well in our eyes say thank you; and continue to do what we can do to be of service to others, and as we are called as we live in this large, inclusive community, we know how to usher in the profound love of God.

Happy Fourth Sunday in Lent; happy Feast of Saint Joseph, dear Neighbors! enjoy this day!

April 17th, 2023