Sometimes when we read the gospel of John it gets a little confusing because St. John is a very spiritual writer. It takes time and prayer to read John to really understand what he is saying or trying to teach us.
In this reading today, John is telling us that Jesus is trying to explain to the Pharisees and scribes that He is the Son of God. When Jesus says He is the Son of God that means that Jesus is God. That is what makes the Pharisees so angry. They think that no one can make themselves to be God.
What they don’t understand is that our God made himself human so that we could understand God. That in time we would grow in faith. And since we can’t see God, it is hard to understand God. But we can see Jesus. He is human and divine. Jesus spoke to us in words we can learn and understand. Jesus tells us to look at all the miracles and signs he has done. Only God can do those things. They are to help us have faith in Jesus.
We also want to talk about the St Joseph icon. Although an icon looks like a painting it is not. It is known as a writing. When the lines are drawn and color is added it is done in a prayerful attitude. This icon is telling us a story about St. Joseph. We look at the different details of the painting to understand what is being written.
For example, look at the eyes of St. Joseph. He is looking downward. St. Joseph is known as a humble person. Even though he is humble he was a man of great strength. He had to take Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. He found a stable for her to have the baby Jesus. Then he had to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt because Herod was trying to keill the baby Jesus. Then after Herod died the little family had to make the dangerous trip back to Jerusalem. Joseph was a strong man.
If we look at the colors, we see Joseph is in brown and green. The brown means Joseph was a poor, hard-working man. They did not have a lot of things. It reminds us that Joseph was a carpenter. The green color is a symbol of purity. St Joseph was very kind and gentle man.
The lily is a symbol for St Joseph, too. The lily flower pedals are in the shape of a “J”, meaning Jesus.
Another symbol that needs to be explained is the IC XC letters. These are the Greek letters that come from the words, Jesus Christ, conqueror. One more symbol that is kind of hidden are the fingers of Jesus. They are in the form of the IC XC shape, too. In the Orthodox Church the priest will hold his fingers in the same way when he blesses the people.
This icon does really share a story with us about St. Joseph. People often just sit quietly in front of the icon, looking into the eyes of St Joseph, asking for his prayers for them and for others.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen