In today’s first reading, we hear the story of the mercy Joseph shows his brothers. After the death of Israel, Joseph’s brothers expect him to be angry to the point of vengeance with them, but instead glorifies God, welcomes his brothers and their families with open arms, and provides for them out of his own wealth as a servant of Egypt. Joseph’s glorification of God, for me, is once again an incredible example from Scripture of how I am to understand how God works in my life.
I am a 28-year old student at St. Louis University. I am also a Jesuit. After finishing the two-year novitiate in St. Paul, MN, I found myself thrust into the academic world of studying philosophy in the “First Studies” phase of Jesuit formation. Lacking a college degree before I entered, I was also missioned to acquire my undergraduate degree while in this phase of my formation. So there I was, a 26-year old freshman, taking Intro to English and Meteorology 100 with 18 and 19-year old freshmen. (As well as three other “intro” courses, resulting in a full schedule.) The other Jesuit scholastics I was sent to St. Louis with, my brothers, were enjoying their flexible schedules, taking the required philosophy and/or theology courses, as well as picking up any additional classes they felt they were interested in.
To me, I was thrust into Egypt; apart from my family and friends, embarking on a path that I seemingly had no control over.
During the summer of 2005, as vow day got closer and my departure from St. Paul for St. Louis approached faster and faster, it seemed to me that even though I had just spent two years going through an incredible spiritual growth phase of the novitiate, I only had reasons to lament as I left for the next phase of formation.
After I spent some time at SLU, however, I realized that these temptations and anxieties were unfounded, and were certainly coming from the evil spirit, rather than from God. As I got to know the new community of men I was living with at Bellarmine House, and got more and more comfortable with the classes I was taking, I found myself much less worrisome about how I was doing in class or how the “kids” I was in class with were reacting to me, but recognized the value my 5+ years of being in the working world and the experience of independence that came with that could be with the other students I was interacting with. The little wisdom I gained through the time between high school and becoming a Jesuit, coupled with the amazing spiritual and pilgrimage experiences I had in the Jesuit novitiate provided me with the tools to be like Joseph; and through that, the temptations of the evil one were lifted and I recognized these gifts from the Creator.
“God meant it for good, to achieve his present end…..By thus speaking kindly to them, he reassured them.”
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