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526Homily for 1/13/13 - afternat - The Righteous Ones

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  • Fr David Moser
    Jan 12, 2013
      Today, we celebrate the memory of the three Righteous Ones; David the
      King, Joseph the Betrothed and James the Brother of the Lord. What is it
      that binds these three so closely together? It is, of course, that they
      are the ones whose lives are marked by “righteousness”. Righteousness
      the quality of acting in accord with divine law and the one who is
      righteous is one who is without guilt or sin. This definition applies to
      all three of these righteous ones who are each so closely linked to the
      life of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      David the King was the pinnacle of the Hebrew monarchy. He was the one
      who brought together the nation of Israel as a political entity. By his
      military action he united all the tribes of Israel and pushed the alien
      tribes out of the promised land. But he was not revered solely for his
      political or military accomplishments. King David was also referred to
      as “a man after God’s own heart.” and he truly strove to live his life
      in accordance with the will of God. We see his deep spiritual qualities
      made manifest to us in the Psalms, many of which were his own
      compositions. We see the heights of his praise for God as well as the
      depth of his repentance. All of this reflects his unwavering and deeply
      ingrained love for God. But King David was not without sin, he was not
      perfect – and his “lapses”, that is his sins, were quite major as we see
      in his adultery with the wife of Uriah and the subsequent plot to murder
      Uriah to cover that adultery. However we also see the whole context of
      his sins and the resulting repentance (the fervor and depth of which
      most of us rarely, if ever, attain). King David was a man after God’s
      own heart because of his love for God and his efforts and desire to live
      in accordance with the law of God. His heart was attuned to that of God.
      And when he deviated from that divine will to follow his own passions
      and desires, he was struck by such deep regret and sorrow that his
      repentance was complete and the guilt of his sin is cleansed. King David
      was without guilt not because he was perfect or because he never sinned,
      but rather because of the depth of completeness of his repentance.

      The Righteous Joseph is known as “the Betrothed” because he was chosen
      by God above all men alive to be the guardian of the Virgin Mary and of
      her Son the God/man Jesus Christ. While the Virgin Mary was the pinnacle
      of humanity, the most perfect person (both physically and spiritually)
      who ever lived, her guardian was also chosen by God and set aside as the
      most perfect man alive. Both were the product of generations of cultural
      and spiritual development that made them into the perfect servants of
      God. The Holy Gospel praises his purity and calls him a “just man”
      (Matt. 1:19). The Righteous Joseph was a man of royal lineage, being the
      descendent of the Prophet and King David, however, he was also a poor
      man who lived by the work of his hands (being a carpenter) He was
      married in his youth to a woman Salome, who bore him 4 sons (James,
      Simon, Jude, and Joses) and two or three daughters (Esther and Thamar
      also called Martha, and Salome also called Mary – some contend that
      there were only two daughters and that Thamar was called at times both
      Martha and Mary). After the death of his wife, Salome, the Righteous
      Joseph remained chaste and did not remarry. At the age of 80 years old,
      Joseph was chosen by God, in a miracle similar to that of the choosing
      of Aaron as the High Priest in the time of Moses, to be the guardian of
      the Virgin Mary. He was betrothed to her not that they might enjoy the
      pleasures of married life, but rather that he might protect her in her
      Virginity and protect her Son until He was able to take his own place in
      the society of the Hebrew people. Even Joseph, as we see in the Gospels,
      was not immune to temptation to lose trust in God and to deviate from
      His will. When the Virgin was found to be with child, rather than trust
      that this was the will of God, Joseph sought to divorce her privately
      until he was corrected and brought back into the path of the divine will
      by the visit of the Archangel Gabriel. (Matt 1:18-24).

      Saint James, the brother of the Lord was the son of the Righteous Joseph
      and Salome. Even from his childhood, he exhibited a love for God and a
      desire for the spiritual life. “From his youth, he loved the ascetic
      life: he never partook of butter or oil and ate nothing but bread;
      neither did he drink wine nor any other sort of strong drink but only
      water. He did not frequent baths-houses, and he disdained every comfort
      of the flesh. He wore a rough hair shirt upon his body and passed each
      night in prayer, sleeping very little. The skin on his knees became as
      tough as a camel’s because of the numerous prostrations which he made,
      and he preserved his virginity undefiled until the day of his death.”
      (Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints)

      St James is known by the name “the brother of the Lord” because of his
      love and care for his young “step brother”, Jesus Christ. When our Lord
      was yet an infant, St Joseph, the father of St James, divided his
      property among the children of his first wife. St Joseph had desired to
      give a share to the infant Jesus, however, the sons of Joseph objected.
      Seeing this dilemma and being moved by love for the Child Jesus, St
      James agreed to give a portion of his own inheritance to the Lord,
      thereby including Him in the inheritance of St Joseph. Because of this
      act of brotherly love, St James was known as “the brother of the Lord.”
      St James also accompanied his father Joseph and the Virgin Mary and the
      child Jesus when they fled into Egypt to avoid the slaughter of the
      innocents by Herod. When Jesus came of age and was revealed to the world
      as the Messiah (at His Baptism), St James believed in Him right away and
      was inflamed even more with the love of God. After the resurrection our
      Lord appeared to St James apart from the other apostles (1Cor 15:7). St
      James was counted among the seventy apostles, made a bishop and was
      instructed in the performance of the Sacred rites by the Lord Himself
      (Stichera of Vespers for the Feast of St James, Oct 23) who then
      entrusted to him the Church of Jerusalem. The life of St James is filled
      with accounts of his virtuous life and his bold proclamation of Jesus
      Christ as the Messiah which led in the end to his martyrdom at the hands
      of the high priests of the Jews.

      Each of these men, David the King, Joseph the Betrothed and James the
      Brother of the Lord, we acclaim as the “Righteous Ones”. In their lives,
      they do indeed fulfill the definition of “righteous” for they lived
      their lives in accordance with divine law, that is in accordance with
      the will of God. They were each chosen by God as the protectors of His
      people, David as King of the Hebrew nation, Joseph as the protector of
      the Virgin and her Son the God/man Jesus Christ, and James as the first
      bishop of the Church of Jerusalem and the leader of the first apostolic
      council of Jerusalem. Each of these men were righteous not because they
      were perfect and without sin, but rather because they strove to follow
      without deviation the will of God and when they did sin, when they did
      stray from that path, they repented wholeheartedly and quickly set foot
      again upon the path of the will of God without hesitation. Today, they
      are our examples. Today, they are our fathers in the faith. Today, they
      lead us into that same fervent love of God that leads to righteousness.
      These three Righteous Ones show us what it is to live in the love of God
      and to order our lives according to His will – let us then follow them
      as they lead us into the Kingdom of Heaven.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org