23 March OS 2017: Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Lent; Holy Monk-Martyr Nikon and His Disciples
The first reading at Vespers today is Genesis 43:26-31 and 45:1-16, in which the Righteous Joseph the All-Comely, now governor of all Egypt, makes himself known to his brothers and demonstrates his greatness of soul in forgiving them and providing for them.
As Joseph explains matters to his brothers, who are cowering in fear lest he should take revenge on them, he is at peace, because he sees that all that has happened to him, including their betrayal, was part of God’s plan to save their family from the great famine. From childhood, when he dreamed that his father and brothers bowed down to him, until now, when his brothers are actually prostrate at his feet, he has pursued a tranquil course of doing the will of God amid the storms of personal disaster – betrayal by his brothers and being cast into a pit, being sold into slavery, and being thrown into prison because he would not sin with another man’s wife, who then falsely accused him of the very thing he refused to do with her. The God Who chose him from his youth and guided his every step has not disappointed him in his hope.
On Great Monday, we will remember Joseph as a typos, a prophetic prefiguration, of Christ Himself, both in His humiliation and in His glory. As Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, so Our Lord was betrayed by His disciple. As Joseph was falsely accused when innocent, so with Christ. As Joseph was exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh, so Christ is exalted to the right hand of God.
We can imitate Joseph in his likeness to the Savior by imitating his patience and his hope, and by a firm determination to accept the will of God for ourselves. When life throws us into a pit, let us realize that it is God Himself Who has allowed us to be helpless, so that we might accept deliverance from Him and Him alone. When falsely accused, let us face it calmly, knowing that our vindication is from Him. When He delivers us, let us show greatness of soul in forgiving our enemies, seeing His profound wisdom in all that has happened to us.
The Patriarch Joseph the All-Comely is also a typos of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed, the guardian of the Most Pure Virgin and the Infant Christ. Like the Old Testament Joseph, the New Testament Joseph is a man of action. He proves himself obedient not by words – of which not a single one is recorded in the Gospel – but by deeds. When the famished Egyptians come to Pharaoh crying out for bread, he says, “Go to Joseph,” for has made Joseph the steward over all the grain of Egypt. As we languish in Egyptian slavery to the passions and sensual pleasures, and we cry to God for deliverance, He says to us, “Go to Joseph,” who was made steward of the True Bread Who was born in Bethlehem, the town whose name means “House of Bread,” for our salvation.
May we prepare with humility and love to receive this True Bread in Our Lord’s Precious Body and Blood, at this Passiontide and Radiant Resurrection. May we, like the two Josephs, always do the will of God with undoubting serenity and unwavering firmness, and so be found worthy to receive the reward of the good steward:
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:21).”