From Fr. Nick Kotsis - We just participated in the first Bridegroom Service of Holy Week. The service tonight is really the Orthros for Holy Monday (remember, during Holy Week, the services are “switched” to show anticipation for the next day – the Orthros services are in the evening, and the Vespers services are in the morning).
In this first service, one of the themes is the remembrance of Joseph. Joseph was Jacob’s 11th child, but his first with his beloved wife Rachel. Joseph drew the ire of is brothers because Jacob was clearly partial to him. When their jealousy boiled over, the brothers sold Joseph to Egyptian traders and told their father Joseph was torn apart by wild animals.
In Egypt, through God’s grace, Joseph eventually becomes the most powerful man in the kingdom next to Pharaoh. He spoke Egyptian, dressed like an Egyptian, and would appear to anyone as a dyed-in-the-wool Egyptian.
After some years, there was a famine in Canaan (where Jacob and the brothers lived) and they had to seek help from Egypt. Jacob sent all the brothers, except his youngest, to ask for help (the youngest was Joseph’s full brother – Jacob had two children with Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin).
When the brothers come to Egypt, they are brought before Joseph, but they do not recognize Joseph; after all, he speaks and looks like an Egyptian. Though interpreters were used during the conversation, Joseph could understand everything the brothers were saying, and he recognized who they were!
I am not going to tell the rest of the story. I hope you will read it (Genesis chapters 42-45). What we see in these chapters is a clear glimpse into Joseph’s heart. He had forgiven his brothers for what they had done to him. He was filled with joy to see them. He was so elated to see them, in fact, that on three separate occasions, Joseph had to leave the room - and he wept! He wept because of the love he had for his family – and especially for his brother Benjamin and their father Jacob.
Joseph is viewed by the Church as a “type” of Christ. A “type” of Christ exhibits one or more Christ-like attributes. For Joseph, he was an innocent man, beloved by his father, who was forsaken by his own family, and basically, was killed (Jacob believed he was dead,). Despite all that happened to Joseph, he forgave his brothers for their sins against him and their father, and Joseph embraced them all with love.
Christ bursts with that same love for us. He expresses it through the figure of the father in the Prodigal Son. He expresses it through His healing of the Canaanite woman with the ill daughter. He expresses it through His love for Lazaros and his sisters.
Most importantly, He express His complete and Divine love for all of us by being willing to endure the passion so that we could live with Him forever.
Please read those chapters in Genesis to understand the profound love Joseph had for his brothers; it practically oozes from the pages it is so well written.
And please know that in a real sense, that love Joseph had for his brothers is made miniscule by the love Christ pours out for us. At no time is this made clearer than during Holy Week in the Greek Orthodox Church.
Kali Anastasi – Have a blessed Resurrection!