Sunday, December 20, 2015

Maronite Year X

Throughout the Season of Announcement we have been getting closer and closer to the Birth of Christ, so it might at first seem odd that the Sunday closest to Christmas we are suddenly talking about the genealogy back to Abraham. But if you grow up in a Middle Eastern culture, and look at what people know about you, the first thing they know about you is your family. It is one of the most basic ways in which we locate each other in the world -- that A is the son of B, who is cousin to C, who married D, that guy from the town across the way. And in a culture in which names tend to repeat a lot -- there would have been many Yeshua's -- there is nothing better to narrow down exactly who is meant than genealogy.

Much of the imagery of the Maronite liturgy on this Sunday is concerned with the hidden mystery throughout the ages -- for so long as it were in secret God had prepared this day, and when it is revealed, even angels are not fully prepared for the greatness of the deed, whereby God, to fulfill his promises to a family of mortal animals, became a member of the family.

Sunday of the Genealogy of Jesus
Romans 1:1-12; Matthew 1:1-17

Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David,
the Son of Abraham, in fullness of time
was born of Mary, the Mother of the Light,
the wife of Joseph of the House of David.

Tradition of blood, tradition of promise,
tradition of covenant and legacy,
succession of generations in their hopes:
simple human lives grow into mystery.

Christ was descended from David by the flesh;
by resurrection he was proclaimed God's Son.
In Jesus we are made heirs of Abraham,
not merely by flesh but by God's own promise.

Angels and guardians of heaven rejoice;
they take cheer in the glory of the upright.
From human generations comes mystery,
one beyond even the angels of heaven.

Heaven came down and is found in a dark cave;
the new throne is a manger at which beasts feed.
Joseph and Mary are like the wheels of fire,
and the Babe that they carry is the Lord God.

Our Lord is a ruler from everlasting;
though He was God in nature, He did not grasp,
but bowed Himself low and became a servant:
the mystery hidden for long is revealed.

People walking in darkness have seen great light;
out of Bethlehem of David day has dawned.
With singing we rejoice in Christ's victory:
a child is born to us, a son is given.

The Son of David shall rule the world with peace,
the Son of Abraham bring hope to Gentiles.
Even the hosts of heaven are in wonder,
even we to whom it is shown are amazed.

O Lord, grant us the faithfulness that endured
through generation after generation;
O Lord, give grace unto us as you gave grace
through generation after generation.

O Lord, who took a body from the Virgin,
in this dark world nourish the people you save.
Lord of light, born of Mary, Mother of Light,
dispel the mortal darkness of faithlessness.

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