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Homily for 1/11/09 - Afternat - three righteous ones

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  • Fr David Moser
    Matt 2:13-23 On this day, the Sunday after the birth of Christ, we recall the Holy Righteous Ones, the kinsmen of the Lord, David the King, Joseph the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 11, 2009
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      Matt 2:13-23

      On this day, the Sunday after the birth of Christ, we recall the Holy
      Righteous Ones, the kinsmen of the Lord, David the King, Joseph the
      betrothed and James the brother of the Lord. There were, of course many
      other kinsmen of the Lord and we celebrated the memory of all of them on
      the Sundays before the Nativity. Why then do we single out these three
      for a special celebration?

      The Prophet and King David is well known to us for it is though his
      lineage that the royal line of Israel passes down through the
      generations to Jesus Christ. Our Lord, however, is not only king of
      Israel, but as God He is King of all Creation. He is the ruler of all
      that is. As King, He orders the world around us, gives us the culture
      and environment in which we can best work out our salvation. He dictates
      through His law the way in which we should live not only for peace and
      prosperity in this life, but also in the world to come. He is our
      sovereign and we owe to him obedience, and loyalty and honor. As God we
      also owe these same things to Him as well as worship and praise. He is
      our King and God; in remembering the Prophet and King David we also
      recall the royal lineage of our Lord and we honor and praise Him as our

      There are, however, good kings and bad kings. In our American culture
      and education, we are taught that, for the most part, kings are bad – or
      at least self indulgent fools. In fact, this is a gross misunderstanding
      of the place in society of the monarch who is the one who stands before
      God not only for his own life, but responsible for the whole nation. In
      a Christian, and especially Orthodox, monarchy, he is crowned not so
      much with honor, but more importantly with a responsibility to rule his
      people in the place of God. However, even in a monarch that is pious and
      holy we see that the flaws and faults of men come out. The most
      brilliant example of this is again David the King, who, although he
      loved God, did also fall into sin and was in this way a “bad king”. Even
      in his sin, the King David shows us the proper path to the Kingdom of
      God for when he is confronted with his sin, he does not deny it or run
      away from it or simply ignore it, excusing his action as a royal
      prerogative; he does repent, with tears and extreme sorrow not only
      turning away from his sin, but publicly expressing his sorrow that he
      had angered God and had erred and that he desired forgiveness. This
      would be the ideal for an earthly king, but it was certainly not the
      only model that the people of God had seen. The king they knew at that
      time was not David, but Herod. Herod the king imposed by the Roman
      occupation was a cruel and selfish man, suspicious of others and of any
      attempt to deprive him of his position. He did not care for his people,
      but only for himself. He went so far as to slaughter 14,000 infants in
      an attempt to kill our Lord whom he had heard of from that magi. He was
      truly a “bad king”. Therefore when we consider Jesus as our King, we
      must recall that he is a King in the line of David, not of Herod and
      that He rules over us with love, not with hatred and selfishness.

      In order that we might understand more clearly the love of God for us,
      not only do we see David the King as our example, but we see also Joseph
      the betrothed. Joseph, while not the true father of Jesus, was betrothed
      to the Virgin Mary as her protector and guardian. He also took into his
      household her Son, Jesus, as his own son and cared for Him as he cared
      for his own children. In Joseph we see that God is not simply our king
      but also our Father. He cares for us as His own children (for such we
      are) and protects us from all harm that might befall us just as Joseph
      protected the Virgin and Child even carrying them to Egypt to avoid the
      mindless paranoid wrath of Herod. He provides for us all that we need in
      this life and in the next, as Joseph provided shelter and food and all
      that was necessary for the Virgin and Child. God loves and cares for us
      as His own beloved ones just as Joseph loved and cared for the Virgin
      and Child as his own family. Joseph is called the betrothed for he was
      selected not to be the husband of the Virgin, but to be her protector
      and guardian. By recalling this distinction we can see for ourselves the
      righteousness and love for God that Joseph exhibited as well as his
      humility. He did not consider himself to be worthy of this calling, and
      even when he was selected by the priests to be the Virgin’s protector,
      he sought to hide out of humility, thinking that there must be some
      other person more worthy than himself for this task. But Joseph’s love
      of God was shown to us by his reaction to the events following the
      annunciation. When he saw that the Virgin was with child, he sought to
      save her embarrassment and allow her to marry the father of the child
      without the public spectacle of a divorce and showing her sin. When the
      truth was revealed to him in a dream by God, Joseph did not waver or
      doubt, but immediately took the Virgin into his home and embraced her
      Son as his own. In the flight to Egypt, he left behind all that he had,
      his own family, his home, his very life to obey God and carry the Virgin
      and Child into exile. In all of this, we see the self sacrificing love
      of Joseph for God and for those who were given into his care. In the
      same way Joseph reminds us of the love of God for us who came to us from
      heaven, an event so inconceivable that even the angels were amazed, and
      took flesh and became man that He might dwell with us in our exile and
      so might lead us out of our exile and back into His Kingdom. In
      remembering Joseph, we remember also that God is our loving Father who,
      out of love for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, took
      flesh and became man.

      When Joseph left his home and family to carry the Virgin and the child
      Jesus into exile to avoid the wrath of Herod, according to tradition,
      his youngest son, still an adolescent accompanied them as well. Joseph,
      as we know, was a widower and had already raised his family and of all
      his sons, there was one who was still at his father’s side. This son was
      named James. When the Virgin Mary was brought into the household of
      Joseph, she was viewed with suspicion by the sons of Joseph, all older
      than she, as she and her offspring would be contenders for the
      inheritance of their father. When Joseph finally died, the sons of
      Joseph contrived to exclude Jesus from a share of the estate. Only James
      stood up for his younger stepbrother saying that he would divide his own
      share with Jesus as his brother. Later on, when Jesus was revealed as
      the Messiah and began to teach and gather disciples, James was among the
      first of the sons of Joseph to follow Him. After the Ascension of the
      Lord, James was chosen as the leader of the Church of Jerusalem and was
      known uniquely by the Christians as “the brother of the Lord” because
      among the sons of Joseph, only James truly embraced Jesus as his own
      brother. Another of Joseph’s sons is also well known to us among the
      leaders of the apostolic Church. This is Jude, who wrote the epistle
      bearing his name that we read in the Scripture. Jude, however, in his
      humility does not identify himself with James as “the brother of the
      Lord” but only refers to himself as “the brother of James the brother of
      the Lord”. Here we see the righteousness of James, who acted towards
      Jesus in a truly brotherly manner, sharing with Him his inheritance and
      supporting Him even from the beginning of His teaching. Just as James is
      the brother of the Lord, so we are reminded that the God/man Jesus
      Christ is our brother. He shares with us the inheritance of the Father,
      the life of the Kingdom of Heaven. He supports us and walks with us as a
      brother, constantly at our side, supporting and guiding us. Just as
      James took Jesus as his own brother, so Jesus takes all of us as His own
      brothers and sisters and offers to us the inheritance of the Kingdom of

      David the King, Joseph the betrothed and James the brother of the Lord:
      these three righteous ones we honor today for they, as the kinsmen of
      the Lord, instruct us in God’s love for us. The God/man Jesus Christ is
      our king to whom we owe loyalty, obedience, honor, worship and praise.
      He orders our life and gives us his law to walk the path of salvation.
      Our Lord Jesus Christ also cares and provides for us as a father for his
      children. He gives us food and shelter and clothing and all that we need
      for this life and for the life in the world to come. He sacrifices
      himself for us, forsaking all that he has so that we might have life.
      Our Lord also takes us as his own brothers and sisters, sharing with us
      His inheritance even though we have no right or claim to it – the
      Kingdom of Heaven. As God has love us, so let us also love God as our
      King, as our Father, as our Brother.

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