Imitating Joseph and His Obedience to the Will of God: On the Sunday after the Nativity of our Lord

Archpriest Igor Tarasov | 10 January 2016

The Epistle lesson assigned for today is from the beginning of the Galatians. In this reading St. Paul is defending his apostleship and telling about his way to become an Apostle of Christ. We all remember that St. Paul was not among the twelve Apostles, he was not following Christ during the time of the Lord’s ministry. However, just as the twelve Apostles were directly called by Christ, so was Paul although this happened much later in time. And just as the twelve Disciples received the Gospel directly from Christ, so did Paul. Therefore, in today’s reading he is confirming that the Gospel which was preached by him is not according to man, for, as he says, “I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1, 12).

Again we have to remind ourselves that Christianity is a revealed religion. Everything we believe in and adhere to was revealed by God to the certain people. Then these certain people told the others about it. In the Old Testament times God spoke thorough Moses and the Prophets. The Scripture is full of the examples of how God reveals His will to the righteous ones. For instance, today’s Gospel story is telling us how the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and guided him to save the life of the Child Jesus. Although the Gospel is a New Testament Scripture, this story repeats the Old Testament experience of the holy people being guided by God.

But things changed. After God took our flesh, He began to speak not only through the Angels but also by Himself. And as St. Paul says, then God “has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Heb. 1, 2). After His Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, the Good News of Jesus Christ was then entrusted to the holy Apostles who preached it to the nations. This Gospel is not man’s invention, but the Word of God. This is why St. Paul warns the Galatians not to accept any false and perverted ‘gospel’. In the beginning of the same chapter the passage of which we heard today, St. Paul says, “Even if we, or an Angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1, 8).

In our modern times we still see many false teachers and false preachers who attempt to pervert the true Gospel and to preach us their own invention. For instance, some of the modern thinkers support the idea of surrogate motherhood. They base their opinion on the examples from the Old Testament where some children in the families of the righteous people were born not of their mothers, but of the other women, for instance, of the servants. However, those biblical cases are no examples of surrogate motherhood. In those cases children born of the servant women were never considered being children of the wives. They were recognized by the fathers, but not taken from their biological mothers. What we see in surrogate motherhood is that the children are separated from the women who give them birth. Therefore, people defending surrogacy, in fact, preach their own ‘bible’, a false and perverted ‘gospel’ willing to please men but not God.

Dear brothers and sisters! We possess a great and the most valuable treasure, the true Gospel revealed by Jesus Christ. It is manifested in our true Christian, Orthodox faith. Our faith is that valuable treasure. It is preached to us through God’s revelation. Revelation has two sources – Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. Everything written in the Scripture or held by our pious Tradition is not from men, but is given to us by God. The Lord entrusted to us this precious gift of faith. In a similar way God entrusted His only-begotten Son when this Son of God became a little Child, to the care of righteous Joseph. Every Christian should imitate Joseph, imitate his obedience to the will of God, his loving care of the holy Family and his courage in following the God’s commands. As St. Joseph protected the Child Jesus from Herod, we have to protect our faith from different modern Herods. As St. Joseph saved the Child Jesus from being slaughtered, so we have to save our faith from being annihilated by different false religions. As St. Joseph took care of the holy Family, we have to take a good care of our churches, our parishes. And, finally, as St. Joseph preserved Jesus for the future appearance to the mankind, so we have to preserve our pious traditions for future generations. If we do so, then as St. Joseph, we will be blessed and receive eternal award in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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