Joseph of Arimathea
August 1 – Joseph of Arimathea – (Orthodox, July 31)
All that is known for certain concerning him is derived from the canonical Gospels. He was born at Arimathea — hence his surname — “a city of Judea” (Luke 23:51), which is very likely identical with Ramatha, the birthplace of the Prophet Samuel, although several scholars prefer to identify it with the town of Ramleh. He was a wealthy Israelite (Matthew 27:57), “a good and a just man” (Luke 23:50), “who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God” (Mark 15:43). He is also called by St. Mark and by St. Luke a bouleutes, literally, “a senator”, whereby is meant a member of the Sanhedrin or supreme council of the Jews. He 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 (cf. 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. He 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 neighboring garden, and withdrew after rolling a great stone to the opening of the sepulcher (Matthew 27:59, 60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53; John 19:38-42).