Advent starts early in Maronite Catholic Rite

Advent start­ed on Dec. 1, 2013, in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, but in the Maronite Rite the prepa­ra­tion for Christ­mas began on Nov. 17 with the start of Sea­son of the Glo­ri­ous Birth of Our Lord. The Sun­day of Novem­ber 17 was the Announce­ment to Zechari­ah, fol­lowed by the Announce­ment to the Vir­gin Mary on Nov. 24 and the Vis­i­ta­tion of the Vir­gin to Eliz­a­beth on Dec. 1 and con­tin­ues through the New Year.

There is a pow­er­ful les­son to learn in the sto­ry of Zechari­ah in that we need to watch our tongue and the words that come out of it because death and life are in the pow­er of the tongue. Below is my con­tri­bu­tion to St. Raf­ka Maronite Catholic Church’s bul­letin and web­site.

As we begin the Sea­son of the Glo­ri­ous Birth of Our Lord there is a pow­er­ful les­son about the words we speak in Luke’s Gospel about the vis­it of the Angel Gabriel to the priest Zechari­ah.

The Angel Gabriel pro­claimed good news to Zechari­ah, telling the priest that his prayers had been answered and that his wife Eliz­a­beth would give birth to a child. This child, John the Bap­tist, would be filled with the Holy Spir­it even in his mother’s womb and would return many sons of Israel back to God.

But instead of rejoic­ing Zechari­ah doubt­ed, say­ing, “How can this be? I am an old man and my wife is bar­ren.” Because of his doubt, Zechari­ah was made mute until the words spo­ken by the Angel were ful­filled.

Words are pow­er­ful and that is the rea­son Zechariah’s mouth was sealed. Instead of telling his fam­i­ly and friends about the glo­ri­ous mir­a­cle about to take place, Zechari­ah would have been say­ing, “This angel came to me, and said Eliz­a­beth would bear a son, but that is impos­si­ble because we are too old.” If Zechari­ah declared those words of doubt he would have missed the mir­a­cle God want­ed to bestow upon him.

How pow­er­ful are words? God made the world by speak­ing words. Jesus tells us that if we have the faith the size of a mus­tard seed, we can move moun­tains by our words. “You are snared by the utter­ance of your lips (words),” pro­claims Proverbs 6:2.  St. Paul writes in Eph­esians, “Let no evil come out of your mouths, but only what is use­ful for build­ing up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” (New Revised Stan­dard Ver­sion Catholic Edi­tion)

By speak­ing words of doubt or defeat we stop the mir­a­cles that God wants to place in our lives. We also tear down oth­ers by what comes out of our mouths. So next time you want to speak defeat or gos­sip, remem­ber words are pow­er­ful. Stop, and speak words of belief, vic­to­ry and love, and be pre­pared to see mir­a­cles hap­pen in your life.

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