+ St. Isaac the Syrian, “Six Treatise on the Behavior of Excellence,” IV, Mystic Treatises By Isaac Of Nineveh
“Some people by the word freedom understand the ability to do whatever one wants … People who have the more allowed themselves to come into slavery to sins, passions, and defilements more often than others appear as zealots of external freedom, wanting to broaden the laws as much as possible. But such a man uses external freedom only to more severely burden himself with inner slavery. True freedom is the active ability of a man who is not enslaved to sin, who is not pricked by a condemning conscience, to choose the better in the light of God’s truth, and to bring it into actuality with the help of the gracious power of God. This is the freedom of which neither heaven nor earth are restrict.”
+ St. Philaret of Moscow, Sermon on the Birthday of Emperor Nicholas I, 1851
So the youth Joseph from Jacob’s bosom [Gen 37:13-14]
was sent to enquire about his own brothers.
And just as Joseph’s harsh brothers,
as soon as they saw him approaching,
began to devise evil against him,
though he was bringing them peace
from their father, so the Jews also,
ever hard of heart, as soon as they saw
the Saviour, said, ‘This is the heir [Matt 21:38],
let us kill him, and all will be ours’.
And just as Joseph’s brothers said,
‘Let us do away with him, and let us be set free
of his dreams’, [Gen 37:20] in the same way too
the Jews said, ‘Come, let us kill
him and lay hold on his inheritance’.[Mat 21:18]
Joseph’s brothers, while eating,
sold him, slaying him in intent.
In the same way too the abominable Jews,
while eating the Passover, slew the Saviour.
The descent of Joseph into Egypt signifies
the descent to earth of our Saviour.
And as Joseph within the marriage chamber
trampled down all the strength of sin,
putting on the bright prizes of victory,
against the Egyptian woman, his mistress,
so too the Lord, the Saviour of our souls,
by his own right hand, descending into Hell,
destroyed there all the power
of the dread and near invincible tyrant.
When Joseph had conquered sin
he was put in prison until the hour of his crowning;
so too the Lord, that he might take away
every sin of the world, was placed in a grave.
Joseph in prison spent two whole years,
passing his time in great freedom [cf Gen 39:21-23]
while the Lord, as powerful, remained
in the tomb for three days, not undergoing corruption.
Joseph, on Pharao’s order, was brought out
graciously from prison, as a true type,
when he easily interpreted the meaning of the dreams,
indicating the abundance of grain that was going to be;
while our Lord [Jesus Christ] was raised from the dead
by his own power, despoiling Hell,
offering to the Father our liberation,
proclaiming resurrection and everlasting life.
Joseph took his seat in Pharao’s chariot,
having received authority over the whole of Egypt;
while our Saviour, king before the ages,
ascending into heaven on a cloud of light,
took his seat with glory at the Father’s right hand,
above the Cherubim, as Only-begotten Son.
When ruling over Egypt, Joseph
having received authority against his enemies
his brothers were brought willingly
before the tribunal of the one who had died through them;
they were brought to prostrate with fear and trembling
before the one who had been sold by them to death;
and with fear they prostrated before Joseph,
whom they had not wanted to be king over them.
But Joseph, recognising his brothers,
revealed them as murderers by a single word;
but they, when they realised, stood dumbfounded
in great shame, not daring to utter,
not having anything at all to say in their defence,
knowing exactly their own sin
at the moment when they sold him;
while he, who seemed to have been destroyed by them in Hades,
was suddenly found to be ruling over them.
So too on that fearful day,
when the Lord comes on the clouds of the air,
he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom,
and all his enemies are brought bound
by fearsome Angels before the judgement seat,
all those who did not want him to rule over them.
For the lawless Jews thought then,
that if he were crucified, he would die as a human;
the wretches not being persuaded that God had come,
for salvation, to save our souls.
Just as Joseph said quite openly
to his brothers, making them fear and tremble,
‘I am Joseph, whom you sold [into slavery],
but now I rule over you, though you did not want it’. [Cf. Gen 45:4]
So too the Lord shows the Cross
in an image formed of light to those who crucified him,
and they recognize the Cross itself
and the Son of God who was crucified by them.
Know how accurately Joseph became
a true type of his own Master.
+ St. Ephraim the Syrian, Excerpt from “Sermon on Joseph the Most Virtuous”, translation by Fr. Ephraim Lash
Read the full sermon at http://anastasis.org.uk/Joseph.pdf
These are the distinguishing marks of the foundation. As a foundation is shown to be firm, and as letters are inscribed upon a stone that the letters may be significant. But these letters are shown by works, “Having,” he says, “this seal” fixed thereon, “Let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” Thus if any one is unrighteous, he is not of the foundation. So that this too is of the seal, not to do iniquity.
Moral. Let us not therefore put off from us the royal seal and token, that we may not be of those who are not sealed, that we may not be unsound, that we may be firmly grounded, that we may be of the foundation, and not carried to and fro. This marks them that are of God, that they depart from iniquity. For how can any one be of God Who is just, if he does iniquity, if by his works he opposes Him, if he insults Him by his misdeeds? Again we are speaking against injustice, and again we have many that are hostile to us.
For this affection, like a tyrant, has seized upon the souls of all, and, what is worse, not by necessity nor violence, but by persuasion and gentle insinuation, and they are grateful for their slavery.
And this is indeed the misery; for if they were held by constraint and not by love, they would soon depart. And whence is it, that a thing which is most bitter, appears to be sweet? Whence is it that righteousness, which is a most sweet thing, becomes bitter? It is the fault of our senses. Thus some have thought honey bitter, and have taken with pleasure other things that were noxious. And the cause is not in the nature of things, but in the perverseness of the sufferers.
The judging faculty of the soul is disordered. Just as a balance, if its beam be un-steady, moves round, and does not show accurately the weight of things placed in it; so the soul, if it has not the beam of its own thoughts fixed, and firmly riveted to the law of God, being carried round and drawn down, will not be able to judge aright of actions.
+ St. John Chrystostom, Homily V, Homilies on Timothy
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