The celebration of the Birth of Our Lord is proceeded in the Maronite liturgical calendar with the announcement to Zechariah, the announcement to Mary, the birth of John the Baptist, the revelation to Joseph, the genealogy and after it concludes with Finding of Jesus in the Temple. While the Roman Catholics prepare for Christmas with a lead up of 4 weeks, for Maronites the season is 7 weeks long.
Each of the Gospel’s moves us through events which occurred leading up to Jesus’ birth. The Maronite liturgy is rich in that each mass is different, there are different prayers depending on the season. Simply, by listening in church we are studying the Bible through not only the Gospel and Epistle readings but also the hymns that we chant.
The Psalm for the Liturgy for the announcement to Zachariah reflects the Gospel and teaches us further about it.
To the Priest Zachariah,
Gabriel, the angel, came
Bringing news of an infant, saying ‘’John will be his name.’’
Zachariah was awestruck
and his heart could not believe.
He was filled with great wonder,
Could his barren wife conceive?
The Liturgy often gives us a lesson on typology (the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament). Here we learn how the events we know very well in the New Testament were prophesied in the Old Testament. The hymn ‘That Most Awesome Mystery’ depicts this.
Hear Isaiah’s prophecy:
John, the herald of the truth,
The prophesy of Isaiah is as follows,
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:3)
Isaiah has prophesied that someone will come before Christ to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’. Today, through the announcement to Zachariah it is revealed that the prophecy will be fulfilled.
I encourage you to listen carefully to the words of the different hymns throughout this season and any other seasons. There is a lot to learn from the Maronite liturgy and we should be grateful for our unique tradition
Blessed season of the Glorious Birth