17 November 2019

posted 15 Nov 2019, 05:43 by C S Paul

17 November 2019

Scripture reading and Sermon

Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church 

Annunciation to Zachariah
This Sunday is commemorated as the day when John the Baptist's birth was announced to Zechariah by Angel Gabriel

Luke 1:1-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

Dedication to Theophilus

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 

just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 

it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 

that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.

John’s Birth Announced to Zacharias

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 

But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.

So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 

according to the custom of the priesthood,his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 

10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. 

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 

12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 

14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 

15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 

16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 

17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 

20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple. 

22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.

23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. 

24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, 

25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.

Annunciation to Zachariah - Devotional Thoughts

by Jose Kurian Puliyeril

Gospel Reading: From the Gospel according to St. Luke 1: 5-25

The Holy Church has designated this Sunday as the Parents’ day. Let us remember our Parents and let us pray for them. Let the observation of this Sunday as Parents’ day be a reminder to the youngsters to be more caring and loving and dutiful to their parents.

In the first verse of today’s reading itself St. Luke is giving us a good description about a noble family, highlighting their nobility in ancestral heritage. In verse 6 we read, “They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” All families on earth could accept this family as their role model. The modern men and women often try their best to get recognition from others that they are good and righteous. We have been taught and instructed to observe the Commandments of God as well as that of the Church. Are we particular in observing them in our practical lives? Let us examine ourselves. Our Lord summarized the Ten Commandments into two namely love God and love our fellowmen. Can anyone of us claim that he or she is particular in obeying these two simple commands? In the place of divine love, we find the heaps of selfishness and we all are slaves to the selfishness. Hence we move fast from God. And as a result the modern men and women are drowning themselves in the depths of sins.

As and when we might observe this Sunday, let us get aloof from the grip of selfishness and let us turn back to Lord God. Let us repent well and start loving our God and our brethren around us, irrespective of caste, creed, color and faith. And Priest Zechariah had the priest’s office before God in the order of his course and according to custom he had to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. (Verse 9) In verse 10 we read that whenever he went into the temple to burn the incense, “And the whole multitude of the people were praying.”

Our system of celebrants staying inside the curtains of the sanctuary and praying with incense, for Thooyobo (prayers of preparation) is based on this scriptural portion. When the Priest or the Metropolitan prays inside the curtain as a part of the preparations of the great sacrifice, how many of our faithful would be present in the Church? Many of us are late comers for the Holy Eucharist because we are not sure what is happening there during the time prior to the public celebration of the Holy Eucharist. We all are obliged to pray together for the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Holy mysteries as well as the participants, while we might chant the hymns or prayers. Our prayers as well the supplications of the celebrant have to reach the heaven together, so that God Almighty might get pleased in us.

While Priest Zechariah prayed the angel appeared and told him “thy prayer is heard.” We must be alert and keen to have such a message from our Lord God either through the angel or directly. In continuation of this the angel told him “and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shall call his name John.” Zechariah heard the second message: “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord.” Why the angel said St. John the Baptist would be great in the sight of the Lord? In Genesis 12:2, we hear our Lord God’s voice: “And I will make of thee a great nation and I will bless thee and make thy name great, and thou shall be a blessing.” Though the promise was directly to Abraham the great Patriarch, the promise got fulfilled in his great grand son, the forerunner of the Savior. St. John turned to be a blessing for the entire mankind and the creation. St. John could turn a number of children of Israel to the Lord their God. (Verse 15) St. John was always ahead of the Savior and redeemer of the entire mankind. St. John was able “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

We all are supposed to be followers of St. John the Baptist, in introducing Christ our Lord as the Savior and Redeemer of the entire mankind. Let us pray earnestly to enable us to comply with our assignments.