By Fr. John Sourlinga
In the Orthodox Church, according to the Menologion, Great Monday is dedicated to the memory of Joseph, the so-called "All-Comely", the son of Jacob, who is spoken about in the Old Testament, as well as the barren fig tree, that Jesus cursed and was withered in a single word.
In the oikos of the synaxarion for this day we read: "Joseph, though enslaved in body, preserved his soul in freedom."
Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob who was envied by his brothers due to his virtuous life. Initially he was thrown into a pit and they tried to deceive their father using a bloodied garment to show he was supposedly devoured by some beast.
They sold Joseph to traders and they in turn sold him to the chief chef of the Pharaoh of Egypt, Potiphar.
There, Joseph resisted the erotic desires of Potiphar's wife, and she indicted him to Potiphar who had him imprisoned.
Eventually, however, Pharaoh had a strange dream and sought an interpreter. Joseph interpreted the dream by saying that famine and barrenness would come to the land for seven years after seven years of plenty.
Pharaoh was pleased and enthusiastic with his wisdom, and he gave Joseph honors. Joseph managed his power perfectly and took care of the people during the difficult years of famine.
At the verge of famine his brothers who envied him manifested themselves before him seeking his help. He not only did not hold them to their wickedness, but rather he forgave them and invited them to permanently reside in Egypt with their father.
We see that Joseph was a slave in his life, but in his soul and his thoughts he was free.
The Church, highlighting the life of the All-Comely Joseph, shows us his ethos, which was nothing else than the effort to acquire inner freedom and purity of life.
Joseph was a victor in the internal warfare and in the end was glorified, demonstrating that it is worth much sacrifice for the soul to not be enslaved.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos