April 10, 2023

Journey Through Holy Week: Holy and Great Monday

Christ the Bridegroom

Christ with his incarnation and sacrifice on the Cross showed God's great love for the human race. That is why he is called the "Bridegroom of the Church".

The services of the first days of Holy Week are called the Bridegroom services.

The events that we remember and celebrate during Holy Week are all contained in the four Gospels, and describe the events that happened after Christ's triumphant Entry into Jerusalem until His Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection.

Holy Monday begins with Matins, which is chanted on Palm Sunday in the evening, and continues with Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts, which is celebrated on Holy Monday in the morning.

On Holy Monday we remember the righteous Joseph, as a type of Christ, and the incident from the Gospel of the unfruitful fig tree that Christ cursed, as a type of spiritual fruitlessness.

Joseph was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, the Patriarch of the Jews. He was his favorite child, so his other siblings were jealous of him and decided to kill him. Finally they sold him to merchants who were going to Egypt and told his father Jacob that the wild beasts had eaten him. In Egypt, Joseph flourished, because his spiritual and physical gifts were not hidden, he contributed to the prosperity of Egypt and even became viceroy, after the Pharaoh. During the period of drought and famine that befell Palestine, his brothers went to ask for help, and there they venerated him. Joseph appeared to them, reassured them that he would not harm them, "because I am of God", as he told them, and he asked about his father, who eventually went to Egypt to be with him.

He is considered a type (likeness) of Christ.

The Gospel reading that we will hear on Sunday evening is from the Evangelist Matthew and refers to the incident of the fruitless fig tree that Christ cursed and it withered, an event that happened the next day after Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, as well as the parables that he told to the Jews concerning their fruitlessness.

The Jews understood that Christ spoke the parables about them and wanted to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the people, who considered him a prophet.

Holy Monday Morning

Vespers is celebrated with a Pre-Sanctified Divine Liturgy.

During Holy Week, the Book of Exodus is read, which describes the first Passover under the Law along with the crossing of the Red Sea and the exodus and freedom of the people from Egypt to the land of Promise with Moses as their leader.

The Book of Job is still being read with the astonishing story of Job.

On the morning of Holy Monday we will also hear from the Gospel of Matthew the words that Christ spoke to His Disciples, shortly before His Passion, about the end of the world and His Second Coming.

The Bridegroom of the Church

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

(From his book The Feasts of the Lord)

Christ with his incarnation and sacrifice on the Cross showed God's great love for the human race. That is why he is called the "Bridegroom of the Church".

Saint Maximus the Confessor, interpreting Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, will say that God is both eros and that which is desired, who moves and attracts to Himself those who accept His eros. Saint Ignatius the God-bearer will call it eros: "My eros is crucified".

Just as eros brings the people who love each other into ecstasy, so God's eros for people brought Him to empty Himself, to become a man.

There are two basic characteristics of a true lover towards the one he loves.

One is that he wants to benefit the lover with many gifts, and the other is that he wants to suffer for her.

The second feature is clearly superior to the first.

Because, however, God, as dispassionate, could not suffer for man, that's why He "undertakes a kenosis", and suffered in His body to show His great love for man.

The All-Comely Joseph as a Type of Christ

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

From the book The Science of Spiritual Medicine

Joseph is considered a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. With his whole life he exemplifies Christ and His Passion. There are many points that can be underlined.

Joseph, because of the envy of his brothers, was first thrown into a pit, after his robe was taken from him. Christ's fellow Jews undressed him and handed him over to death.

As Joseph was subsequently sold as a slave in Egypt, so the Son of Man was sold as a slave or rather as the worst of criminals by His disciple, whom He Himself called to the apostolic office.

Just as Joseph faced a great temptation from Potiphar's wife and managed to overcome, so Christ also faced a great temptation from human evil and with His divinity He defeated death and the devil. They may have kept His clothes, they may have killed Him, but with His death He conquered the state of death.

Just as Joseph, after being slandered, was imprisoned, so the Son of Man, after being slandered, was killed and descended into Hades.

And just as Joseph came out of prison victorious and became like a king of Egypt, so Christ came out of Hades triumphant and became the King of the new Israel, the Israel of Grace. "The Lord reigns, He is clothed in majesty."

These amazing similarities contributed to Joseph the All-Comely being considered a type of Christ.

Apostichon for the Withered Fig Tree

Being frightened by the punishment of the fig tree, which withered because it did not bear fruit, O brethren, let us bring worthy fruits of repentance to Christ, who grants us His great mercy.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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