Tuesday, 17 March 2015
St Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Jesus, probably ever since Christ's first preaching in Judea (John 2: 23), but he did not declare himself as such "for fear of the Jews" (John 19: 38). On account of this secret allegiance to Jesus, he did not consent to His condemnation by the Sanhedrin (Luke 23: 51), and was most likely absent from the meeting which sentenced Jesus to death (Mark 14: 64). The Crucifixion of the Master quickened Joseph's faith and love, and suggested to him that he should provide for Christ's burial before the Sabbath began. Unmindful therefore of all personal danger, a danger which was indeed considerable under the circumstances, he boldly requested from Pilate the Body of Jesus, and was successful in his request (Mark 15: 43-45). Once in possession of this sacred treasure, he — together with Nicodemus, whom his courage had likewise emboldened, and who brought abundant spices — wrapped up Christ's Body in fine linen and grave bands, laid it in his own tomb, new and yet unused, and hewn out of a rock in a neighbouring garden, and withdrew after rolling a great stone to the opening of the sepulchre (Matthew 27: 59, 60; Mark 15: 46; Luke 23: 53; John 19: 38-42). Thus was fulfilled Isaiah's prediction that the grave of the Messiah would be with a rich man (Isaiah 53: 9). The Greek Church celebrates the feast of St Joseph of Arimathea on July 31st, and the Catholic Church on March 17th. Additional details are found concerning Joseph in the apocryphal Acta Pilati. There is also apocryphal legend telling of Joseph accompanying the Apostle Philip, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene and others on a preaching mission to Gaul. Lazarus and Mary stayed in Marseilles, while the others travelled north. At the English Channel, Philip sent Joseph, with twelve disciples, to establish Christianity in the most far-flung corner of the Roman Empire, the British Isles. The year AD 63 is commonly given for this event, with AD 37 sometimes being put forth as an alternative. Comprehensive coverage of this is found in my book The Grail Church.
Posted by +Seán Manchester at 02:02