The Announcement to Zechariah

Today begins the first Season of the Liturgical Year, known as The Season of the Glorious Birth. This Season begins with the Announcement to Zechariah, followed by the Announcement to Mary, Birth of John the Baptist, Revelation to Joseph, Genealogy of Jesus, Birth of the Lord and concludes with Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Today’s Gospel reflects how we can sometimes struggle to have faith in God and what he has willed for us.

In the Maronite Season leading up to Christmas we prepare ourselves for the Birth of our Lord. It is important to note that the Maronite calendar is different to that of the Roman Catholic Calendar. While the Roman Catholics prepare for Christmas with a lead up of 4 weeks, Maronites begin preparing for the birth of our Lord today and the season is 7 weeks long. There are many differences between the two traditions of these churches. It is important to understand the richness of our own tradition and teach this to our children.

Each gospel moves us through events which occurred leading up to Jesus’ birth. Maronite Mass 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. If we pay attention to today’s mass and mass throughout this week we will notice many hymns about Zachariah’s experience with the Angel Gabriel.

Today’s Psalm 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.

Today’s Hymn titled ‘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 mass and we should be grateful for our unique tradition

Blessed season of the Glorious Birth

Christina Maksisi