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And Joseph entered into the house, and they brought him the gifts which they had in their hands, into the house; and they did him reverence with their face to the ground. And he asked them, How are ye? and he said to them, Is your father, the old man of whom ye spoke, well? Does he yet live? And they said, Thy servant our father is well; he is yet alive. And he said, Blessed be that man by God; —and they bowed, and did him reverence. And Joseph lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, born of the same mother; and he said, Is this your younger brother, whom ye spoke of bringing to me? and he said, God have mercy on thee, my son. And Joseph was troubled, for his bowels yearned over his brother, and he sought to weep; and he went into his chamber, and wept there. And he washed his face and came out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread. And Joseph could not refrain himself when all were standing by him, but said, Dismiss all from me; and no one stood near Joseph, when he made himself known to his brethren. And he uttered his voice with weeping; and all the Egyptians heard, and it was reported to the house of Pharao. And Joseph said to his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him, for they were troubled. And Joseph said to his brethren, Draw nigh to me; and they drew nigh; and he said, I am your brother Joseph, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now then be not grieved, and let it not seem hard to you that ye sold me hither, for God sent me before you for life. For this second year there is famine on the earth, and there are yet five years remaining, in which there is to be neither ploughing, nor mowing. For God sent me before you, that there might be left to you a remnant upon the earth, even to nourish a great remnant of you. Now then ye did not send me hither, but God; and he hath made me as a father of Pharao, and lord of all his house, and ruler of all the land of Egypt. Hasten, therefore, and go up to my father, and say to him, These things saith thy son Joseph; God has made me lord of all the land of Egypt; come down therefore to me, and tarry not. And thou shalt dwell in the land of Gesem of Arabia; and thou shalt be near me, thou and thy sons, and thy sons’ sons, thy sheep and thine oxen, and whatsoever things are thine. And I will nourish thee there: for the famine is yet for five years; lest thou be consumed, and thy sons, and all thy possessions. Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. Report, therefore, to my father all my glory in Egypt, and all things that ye have seen, and make haste and bring down my father hither. And he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept on him; and Benjamin wept on his neck. And he kissed all his brethren, and wept on them; and after these things his brethren spoke to him. And the report was carried into the house of Pharao, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come; and Pharao was glad, and his household. Genesis 43:26-31, 45:1-16
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,” whom He 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).”
This commentary was taken from The Eternal Sacrifice: The Genesis Readings for Great Lent by Fr. Steven Allen. You can order a copy from Lulu at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/FrStevenAllen