Holy Great-Martyr Theodore the General (286-305); the Holy Prophet Zechariah (c. 520 BC)
Jude 11-25; Luke 23:1-34, 44-56
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
The Great Fast (Lent) will start in just a few days. Many of us will be starting new ascetical efforts or increasing the efforts we have be practicing for some time—prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in their various forms. These efforts are not ends in themselves. Rather, they are to assist in the increase in the awareness of the Lord’s presence in our lives, and love we have for Him and our neighbour.
We are presented today with the figure of Joseph of Arimathea. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews in Jerusalem at that time. He was a good and righteous man, and we know from the Gospels that he, like Simeon in the Temple, desired to see the revealing of the Kingdom of God. We also know that he did not assent to the intention of the Sanhedrin to kill Jesus. He was of some standing in that he was able to approach the Roman procurator, Pilate, and ask for the body of Jesus after His crucifixion. He was willing to risk the everything for Jesus, including the wrath of the governor, and the anger from the other members of the Sanhedrin. Joseph is the figure of great love for our Lord.
We will sing on Great and Holy Friday at the Vespers of Entombment where the Shroud if placed in the tomb in the middle of the church,
Down from the Tree Joseph of Arimathea
took You dead who are the Life of all,
and he wrapped You, O Christ, in a linen cloth with spices.
Moved in his heart by love,
he kissed Your most pure body with his lips;
yet drawing back in fear, he cried to You, rejoicing:
Glory to Your self-abasement, O Lover of mankind!
As Jesus loved us so much that He endured death by crucifixion, a complete self-abasement, so Joseph imitates our Lord with a love that that risks everything. This is the type of love that we as Christians ought to possess. It’s the way to live in the Resurrection.