The Mysteries of Light or Luminous Mysteries are now placed between the Joyful and sorrowful mysteries in our recitation of the Rosary on a sequential basis. Each of these mysteries points the believer to the central meaning of the Mission of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. While the believer asks for the prayerful intercession of Mary, the Mother of the Lord, he or she is invited to reflect on the meaning of the mystery presented and allow the Holy Spirit to draw them more deeply into its intended effect in their own lives as they seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and participate in His ongoing mission, in and through the Church, for the sake of the world.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In 2002, Blessed John Paul II released an apostolic letter on the Rosary of the Virgin Mary (RVM) in which he referred to the Rosary as a compendium of the Gospel. He also proposed that the practice of praying the rosary would be enhanced by additional mysteries of light for reflection. He wrote:
"Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way "mysteries of light". Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the "light of the world" (Jn 8:12).
Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom. In proposing to the Christian community five significant moments - luminous mysteries - during this phase of Christ's life, I think that the following can be fittingly singled out: (1) his Baptism in the Jordan, (2) his self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana, (3) his proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with his call to conversion, (4) his Transfiguration, and finally, (5) his institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery. Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus."
The Mysteries of Light or Luminous Mysteries are now placed between the Joyful and sorrowful mysteries in our recitation of the Rosary on a sequential basis. Each of these mysteries points the believer to the central meaning of the Mission of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
While the believer asks for the prayerful intercession of Mary, the Mother of the Lord, he or she is invited to reflect on the meaning of the mystery presented and allow the Holy Spirit to draw them more deeply into its intended effect in their own lives as they seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and participate in His ongoing mission, in and through the Church, for the sake of the world.
First Mystery of Light: The Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan
"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Mt 3,13-17)
"The Baptism in the Jordan is first of all a mystery of light. Here, as Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became "sin" for our sake (cf. 2Cor 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out." (Blessed John Paul II, RVM 21)
From antiquity, the Christian church has pointed to the Baptism of the Lord in the river of Jordan as the event wherein the full plan of God for His Church and the entirety of creation itself is made manifest. It is not only the beginning of the Lord's public ministry; it is the beginning of the new creation, now being re-constituted in Him.
The beloved disciple John wrote in His first letter: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)
We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is? How? When we live in Him, we grow in holiness and manifest His glory for others. We see Him and he sees us. We know Him and He knows us. He lives in us and we live in Him. This process of conversion and transformation begins at our Baptism. He initiates the relationship, and it continues through our communion with Him in prayer, His Word, the sacraments and our life in the Church.
Through our own baptism we are incorporated into Christ. We enter into His Mystical Body, the Church. We live in Him for the sake of the world. We begin to see Him as He is and in the continuing encounter which that mystery entails, we become "like Him" for others. We become a manifestation, an epiphany of God in a world stumbling along in the darkness of sin. We also become immersed in God.
The word Epiphany is not often used in Eastern Christianity, Orthodox or Catholic. It is replaced by the word Theophany, which in Greek literally means the manifestation of God. The Theophany speaks to the vocation of the whole Church and of every Christian to be immersed in God and bring the whole human race and the world along with us.
The Apostle Peter writes in his second letter to the dispersed early Christians that we become "partakers of the divine nature". (2 Peter 1:4) The Baptism of Jesus reveals the Holy Trinity to the world. The heavens open, the voice of the Father speaks to the Son and the Spirit descends! We are invited into a participation in that life of the Trinity - beginning now, through our Baptism into Jesus Christ! Our life can become a deepening experience of that participation, as we cooperate with grace.
The waters of the Jordan are sanctified by the Son. In the first creation, God created the heavens and the earth through the Son. Now, that Son come among us as a man goes down into those waters and re-creates the world. From antiquity, the Church has found a deeper meaning in this Baptism in the River Jordan. Symbolically, all water is sanctified when God the Son is immersed into it. Just as the Spirit hovered over the waters of the original creation, the Spirit now hovers over these waters when the Son, through whom the entire universe was made, is immersed. (Genesis 1:9/ St. John 1:1-5)
In Eastern Christian Churches, when this feast is celebrated, waters are blessed. In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches the clergy lead the faithful to rivers and bless the waters. Into these waters, through which the people of Israel were once delivered, the entire human race is now invited to follow Jesus in every Baptismal Font, in every Church, for all eternity.
In Christ, all water has been sanctified. What was once the means of God's judgment at the time of Noah has become the fountain where men and women are delivered from sin and made new! The heavens open and the Holy Spirit appears as a sign of the beginning of the new creation in each new life. Through Christ's Baptism the waters of the whole earth have been sanctified and the Church is given new water for her saving and sanctifying mission.
In the waters of the Jordan, the Trinity, the Communion of Divine persons, in perfect unity, is revealed. In the great liturgical prayer of the East the Church proclaims: "When Thou, O Lord was baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest... O Christ our God who has appeared and enlightened the world, Glory to Thee."
The waters of Baptism now flow with mercy. The Creator who spoke those waters into being through the Son, in Him condescended to take on our humanity and be immersed in the waters of the Jordan! Once, the Spirit hovered over the waters. Now the Word Incarnate descends into Jordan's water making it holy. In this Baptism, Jesus begins the re-creation of the universe. We who are now baptized into Him are called to share in this work. The public mission and ministry of Jesus began at the waters of Jordan. It continues now through His Church, which is His Body, of which we are members.
Second Mystery of light: The Self-revelation of the Lord at the Wedding Feast of Cana
"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.
Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him." (Jn 2,1-12)
"Apart from the miracle at Cana, the presence of Mary remains in the background. The Gospels make only the briefest reference to her occasional presence at one moment or other during the preaching of Jesus (cf. Mk 3:31-5; John 2:12), and they give no indication that she was present at the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist.
Yet the role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry. The revelation made directly by the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan and echoed by John the Baptist is placed upon Mary's lips at Cana, and it becomes the great maternal counsel which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: "Do whatever he tells you." (Jn. 2:5) This counsel is a fitting introduction to the words and signs of Christ's public ministry - and it forms the Marian foundation of all the 'mysteries of light'. (Blessed John Paul II, RVM 21)"
It is no accident that the first miracle the Lord performed, the first sign of His Kingdom, during his earthly ministry occurred in the context of a Wedding. The Nuptial mystery at the heart of marriage reveals the very meaning and structure of of human existence. The Sacrament of Marriage is a sign of Christ's love for the Church which is His bride. Jesus is the bridegroom. Each Holy Mass, each participation in the Most Holy Eucharist is a participation in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.(Revelation 19:6-9)
It is also no accident that the first miracle of turning water into wine occurred at the request of the Mother of the Lord. The prayers of a Mother are powerful. Mary is the Mother of the Lord. She is also our mother because she is the Mother of the Church. He entrusted her to us from the cross. (Mt. 19:25-27)
There is a nuptial meaning to our life. Our destiny is prefigured prophetically in Christian marriage. God fashioned us out of love and for love. We have been created, - spiritually as well as physically - for the complete gift of ourselves to the other. Through that gift we also give ourselves to God in Christ - for the sake of the world.
This is why St Paul's letter to the Ephesians is such a fertile ground for instruction on Christian marriage. Its singular intent is to communicate the profound mystery of Christian marriage - God thought first of the spousal union of Christ and His bride, the Church, and He then made husband and wife to look like it, reflect it and make it present sacramentally!
In the order of creation, something of this plan hidden from the ages (Ephesians 3:8-9) is revealed. However in Christian Marriage, through its participation in and with Jesus Christ, it is all elevated and transformed. It is a Sacrament, a vehicle of grace. The good of the human relationship of marriage becomes a real, substantial participation in Trinitarian Love! God's eternal plan is to marry the Church.
Christian Marriage is a model, a mystery and a mission. It reveals the unfolding of Gods loving plan for the entire human race. Nature is for grace and the order of creation is transformed by the order of redemption. The married couple lives their vocation now in Christ and participates in His very life and action with His bride, the Church. This is the great mystery Paul so profoundly alludes to in his text. Christian marriage is a vocation, a call to holiness, and a mission in and for the world.
The nuptial mystery also lies at the heart of the Christian vocation to consecrated celibacy. But whereas the participation in this mystery called Christian Marriage is mediated through a spouse, in the life to come it will be unmediated!
The Scriptures make it clear; there will be no specific marriages in heaven. Rather, we will be like the angels. (St. Matthew 22:30) Marriage is the eschatological destiny of all Christians, because we will be married to Christ. All human love will be perfected and comleted in the fullness of God's love.
It is within this understanding that consecrated celibacy is a prophetic and eschatological participation in that eternal union. It is the immediate or unmediated spousal love of God, in Christ, made possible in the here and now by grace.
Next week we will reflect on the Third and Fourth Mystery of Light, the proclamation of the Kingdom by Jesus Christ and His Transfiguration. The reflections on the Mysteries of Light of the Holy Rosary of the Virgin Mary are excerpted from a Prayer Booklet written by Deacon Keith Fournier which will soon be available for purchase.
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