Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Revelation to Joseph
Volume 5 No. 318 December 11, 2015
This Sunday, we recall the Revelation to St. Joseph. St. Joseph is the most ignored Patriarch/Saint of our church. Not a word of what he said is recorded in the Bible. He was described as a just man and followed what the God asked him to do without questioning. That is the ultimate faith and obedience. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son who was born to fulfill the covenants, Abraham went without questioning to sacrifice him. Joseph followed Abraham's example, just do what God ask you to do without questioning.

When Angel Gabriel told Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth will bear and deliver a son, Zachariah doubted him by asking how can that be since both of them are well past child bearing stage. He asked the angel:

And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
(Luke 1:18 )

We may note that Sera and Abraham were well past child bearing/rearing age when the angel told them that they will have a son. But Abraham never doubted God.

When the angel went to Mary and told her that she will conceive of Holy spirit and bear the son of God, Mary didn't doubt God. She just asked the angel how can a virgin conceive without losing virginity. It was not a question of doubt; it was just a question of clarification.

The angel appeared to Joseph after Mary was well into the pregnancy and Joseph has decided to quietly divorce her. He said:

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
- Matthew 1:20-21

Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife.
- Matthew 1:24

That is obedience and faith!

Joseph was the privileged one. The angel only appeared to Mary once for annunciation. After Mary said "Yes", all the communications were directed to Joseph instead of Mary. After Jesus was born, Joseph was asked to take the child to Egypt to escape from Herod. The angel also gave an "all clear" sign to Joseph to bring the baby back to Nazareth ager Herod died. Joseph silently, without question, obeyed all what the angel told him to do.

I hope you can see the important role played by Joseph in the salvation plan of God. That is why it is difficult to understand why our church ignores him. Till Perumpilly Thirumeni has named St. Joseph's Cathedral in Kottayam, we didn't have any church named after him. Now we may have a half a dozen or so named after him.

We can ask St. Joseph to intercede for us. A prayer is given later in today's Journal.

Go to Joseph in thy joys, thou wilt rejoice the more.
Go to Joseph in thy grief, when death knocks at thy door.
Go to Joseph no matter when, thy refuge he will be.
He holds the key to Jesus' Heart, Its treasures are for thee!

Joseph is considered the patron saint of all workers, especially wood workers. He also looks after the church and those with terminal diseases.

In the Western tradition, this Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent. It is called "Gaudete Sunday," the Sunday of joy. The Holy Church wants us to be happy because the Lord will be coming soon. Christmas is near. The Christian message is called "gospel," or "glad tidings." It is an announcement of joy for the whole people. Take a look at what the angel told the shepherds. They brought good news. The Church is a house of joy and eternal peace! Those who are sad find joy in her, they find true joy in her.

Pope Francis explained this well:

"The joy of the Gospel is not just any joy. It is caused by our finding ourselves embraced and loved by God. As the prophet Isaiah (cf. 35:1-6a, 8a, 10) reminds us, God is he who comes to save us, and give succor especially to the fearful of heart. His coming among us strengthens, solidifies, encourages, lifts up and makes the desert and plain bloom, that is, our life when it becomes arid. And when does our life become arid? This happens when it lacks the water of the Word of God and his Spirit of love.

However great are our limits and our dismay, we are not permitted to be downhearted and vacillating in the face of our infirmities. On the contrary, we are invited to get a grip and straighten our weak knees, to have courage and not be afraid because our God always shows us the greatness of his mercy.

He gives us the strength to go forward. He is always with us to help us go forward. He is a God who truly wants what is good for us, he loves us and so he is with us, to help us, to strengthen us and go forward. Take heart! Always forward!"

So, take some time out and see the winter scenes, the lighted Christmas Trees, lighted trees and stars and think back to the day of the first Christmas when God was born as a human being! The word became flesh without breaking the virginity of St. Mary! And because of Jesus, we all became the sons and daughters of God and the death that came from the disobedience of Adam was wiped out.

One of my favorite songs is written and performed by Bill Gaither and his team titled "Because He Lives". I first heard it in 1977 when I was in Chattanooga, TN on my first job when I attended a church there. I still vividly recall the joy that song gave me. Here are the lyrics. If you want to hear the music, it is in You Tube.

"Because He Lives"

God sent his son
They called him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He bled and died
To buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
My life is worth the living just because he lives

How sweet to hold
A new born baby
And feel the pride
And joy he gives
But better still
The calm assurance
That child can face uncertain days because he lives

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
My life is worth the living just because he lives

And then one day
I'll cross the river
I'll fight life's final war with pain
And then as death
Gives way to victory
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know he lives

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
My life is worth the living just because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
My life is worth the living just because he lives

Writer(s): Bill Gaither, Patrick Standfast, Arnthor Birgisson, Christian Karlsson, Anders Bagge, Gloria Gaither, Alceu Alvez Damico Copyright: Murlyn Songs AB, Warner/Chappell Edicoes Musicais Ltda

Yes because of Jesus, we can face tomorrow and our life is full of hope, joy and peace. Like the angel said, "Do not be afraid." You are not alone.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World


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