Today is Holy Monday and for each of the first three days of Holy Week, there is a general theme. These are the days that set the stage for Christ’s death and resurrection, which takes place later on in the week. On this day, we commemorate Joseph the Patriarch, the son of Jacob (from the Old Testament). This is also the day that the church remembers the moment that Jesus cursed the fig tree on his way into Jerusalem during His triumphant entry.
There is typically an Orthos Service on Holy Monday. However, some people have the Bridegroom Services on the evening of Palm Sunday, instead. Some churches actually have both services.
The holy Passion of our Saviour begins today, presenting Joseph the all-comely as a prefiguring of Christ. He was the eleventh son of Jacob, and his first son by Rachel; because he was so beloved of his father, his own brethren came to envy him and cast him into a pit. Later they sold him to foreigners for thirty pieces of silver, who later sold him again in Egypt. Because of his virtue, his master gave him much authority in governing his house; because he was fair of countenance, his master’s wife sought to draw him into sin with her; because of his chastity, he refused her, and through her slanders was cast into prison. Finally, he was led forth again with great glory and was honoured as a king. He became lord over all Egypt and a provider of wheat for all the people. Through all this, he typifies in himself the betrayal, Passion, death, and glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Gen., chapters 37, 39 41).
To the commemoration of Patriarch Joseph is added also the narration concerning the fig tree, which on this day was cursed and subsequently dried up because of its unfruitfulness. It portrayed the Jewish synagogue, which had not produced the fruit demanded of it, that is, obedience to God and faith in Him and which was stripped of all spiritual grace by means of the curse (Matt. 21:18-20).
Apolytikion of Holy Monday
Plagal of the Fourth Tone
See! The Bridegroom sets forth in the dead of night. And blessed is that servant whom he shall find on watch; unworthy the one he shall come upon lazing. See to it, soul, that sleep does not overtake you, lest you be given up to death and be shut out of the kingdom. Bestir yourself, then, and sing out: “Holy, holy, holy are You, our God; through the protection of the bodiless powers, save us.”
Kontakion of Holy Monday
Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Jacob mourned the loss of Joseph, while the noble one rode in a chariot, honored as royalty. For having spurned the enticements of the Egyptian woman, he was in turn glorified by Him who knows the hearts of men and bestows an incorruptible crown.
*Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America