April 26, 2021

Joseph the All-Comely as a Prefiguration of the Lord and as a Model for Us

By Metropolitan Kallinikos Karousos of Piraeus

"Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph; yet the courageous one sat on a chariot, honored as a king. For by refusing to be enslaved by the pleasures of the Egyptian woman, he was later glorified in return by Him who sees men's hearts and deals out the imperishable crown."

Tonight our Church sets before us at the beginning of Holy Week the Righteous Joseph. And the All-Comely Joseph has a major association with Passion Week for two reasons.

First, because in Joseph we have a prefiguration of the Lord.

Second, because Joseph with his prudent conduct provides us with good lessons for our spiritual struggle, especially now during Holy Week.

1) Prefiguration of the Lord

He was one of the twelve children of the Patriarch Jacob. His life was turbulent. We can see that in many ways, as the Fathers of the Church say, he is a prefiguration of the Lord's sufferings. I will briefly mention some to you.

Joseph was sold by his brothers to the Egyptians. The relevant narration of the Old Testament is well known. He was sent by his father Jacob to meet his brothers in the fields. They took the opportunity to remove him out of their sight. "So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him." However, after Rubin intervened, they did not kill him, but threw him into a pit. Reuben intended in this way to save him from the murderous hands of his brothers and to take him out of the pit later to return him to his father. But while after this deed these cunning brothers of Joseph sat down and ate, they saw Ishmaelite merchants passing by, going to Egypt. Then, at the suggestion of Judah, they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty gold coins. And the Ishmaelites took him, after they had bought him, to Egypt as a slave.

In the same way was not the Lord sold by His disciple, though for thirty pieces of silver?

Joseph was sold out of envy. His brothers were jealous of him. "When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him," says the 37th chapter of Genesis.

And the Lord was condemned out of envy and jealousy. The rulers of Israel hated Him out of envy and jealousy. Out of envy and jealousy, His ungrateful disciple betrayed Him. Out of envy and jealousy, the Council of the Jews sentenced Him to death on a cross.

Joseph in Egypt was slandered by the lecherous wife of Potiphar.

And the Lord was slandered in the most unjust and manipulative way.

Joseph was imprisoned for the unjust slander against him.

And the Lord was imprisoned.

Joseph suffered because of his wisdom.

And the Lord was tortured, in a much worse way, and martyred on the cross, the sinless one, and was imprisoned in the tomb.

After his imprisonment, Joseph was glorified, his innocence was revealed, and he ascended to a high throne, becoming ruler in Egypt.

And the Lord was glorified after the three days of burial. He rose with glory. And He emerged victorious and triumphant.

Do you see, then, that we have important prefigurations in the person of Joseph of the sufferings and triumph of the Lord? This is one reason why the Church sets Joseph before us at the beginning of Holy Week.

2) But Joseph is also a great example of wisdom and self-control

He was young when he was attacked by the sinful wife of his boss, Potiphar. He did not give in to the power of the flesh. He did not bend. He did not betray his faith in God. He drove away the temptation. He preferred to lose his clothes, rather than lose his soul. He preferred to fall into the displeasure of his sinful master, and to be slandered and imprisoned, rather than to lose his purity and the cleanliness of his heart. He made no compromises, no sacrifices in the voice of his conscience. He did not engage in a dialogue with sin, which provocatively stood before him. He left immediately and was saved mentally. He had before his eyes the living presence of God and this protected him from falling over the cliff and strengthened him to repel temptation.

This is a great lesson on how to deal with the temptations of the flesh!

Do not dialogue with temptation, brethren. Are you young and experiencing challenges from your environment, from people once close to you, from cheap women? Leave and save yourself. No dialogue. Satan is waiting. Imitate Joseph. It is better to lose your position, to lose people's favor, to be persecuted, to be hungry, than to betray your honor and lose the precious treasure of your purity. God will reward you, as He rewarded the wise Joseph.

A great example of self-control and temperance is Joseph. But also of the steadfastness in his faith, and his devotion to the law of God. God was present before the eyes of his soul.

"How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" he said to that sinful woman.

The consciousness of God's presence must always be alive within us. God sees us. He listens to us. He is before of us. "I saw the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken," said the much-experienced David. When we have this awareness of the presence of God, then we easily curb the flesh. Then we easily repel temptations. Then we gain strength in the fight against the naughty skirmishes within ourselves.

My brethren,

Here is the great value of Joseph being set before us tonight. Let us be inspired by his heroic and incorruptible personality, by his strong will, by his temperance and self-control, so that we may receive the salvific Passion of our Lord with an immaculate body and a pure soul.

Source: From the book Η Εβδομάδα των Παθών, Δ΄ έκδ., Αθήνα 1983. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.