Advent Week 3: Dec. 11-17
The Luminous Mysteries
Advent is filled with imagery of light and darkness. We light wreaths with candles to signify the four weeks of Advent, and as Christmas approaches, deck our homes inside and out with lights to make this time of year feel festive and glowing. The Luminous Mysteries remind us that even as dazzling or as comforting as the twinkle and sparkle of these lesser lights can be, they pale in comparison to the true light of the world.
“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn 1:5)
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shone.” (Mt 4:16)
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” (Is 60:1)
The Luminous Mysteries give us an opportunity to meditate on Jesus’ public life—the time between his Baptism and his Passion on the Cross. It’s the time when he walked with his friends, preached to the crowds, and revealed glimpses of his divinity in the midst of his human life. When the Luminous Mysteries, also known as the Mysteries of Light, were proposed by then Pope John Paul II (now St. John Paul II), he wrote: “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… Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus.”*
While the rosary is a Marian prayer, it is ultimately, as is everything related to our Blessed Mother, pointing us to Jesus. Like the moon, which reflects the light of the sun, Mary reflects and orients us back toward her son. The Luminous Mysteries help us meditate more fully on Christ’s life, and as St. John Paul II put it, sit “at the school of Mary… to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.”
(If you have never prayed the rosary before, or it has been some time since you have, do not let that stop you! Our downloadable and FREE How to Pray the Rosary guide is available for anyone who wishes to learn how to pray this beautiful prayer.)
First Glorious Mystery: The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan
Fruit of the Mystery: Openness to the Holy Spirit
"And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased"' (Mt 3:16-17).
Think about: Why was Jesus baptized? He was, after all, sinless, and baptism by St. John the Baptist was for repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Instead, he was baptized for our sake, making the waters of baptism holy for us. Pope Benedict XVI tells us in “Jesus of Nazareth” that in antiquity, water was symbolic of death and life. The power of the ocean, or of a flood, brought to mind destruction, while the waters of a river were a symbol of life. By immersing himself in the water and then rising out of it, Jesus gave us a sign of his death and resurrection. We are to follow him in this—our own dying to self and sin, and rising to new life in him. Let us remember our own baptism in this mystery; that in the sacrament, God gives us grace to live as his sons and daughters. We must repent of the things that are keeping us from being wholly his, and by the power of Holy Spirit, go forth and share his life and love with others. In baptism, we are called to holiness that changes us, which then can change the world.
Second Glorious Mystery: The Wedding Feast of Cana
Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary
"On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.' And Jesus said to her, 'O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you"' (Jn 2:1-5).
Think about: There is so much truth we can learn from contemplating this mystery, but one of the most profound is also the most straightforward: we, like the servants, must listen to Mary and “do whatever he tells” us. Often it can be hard for us to sincerely seek and do the Lord’s will in our lives for many reasons, one of which can be fear. Do we trust him? Or are we afraid of what he may ask of us? Mary’s trust in her son was perfect, and the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine—and not just any wine, but the best—reminds us that he is generous and good. May we trust Jesus to reveal himself in our own lives, that we may be open to the goodness that he wishes to give us, and, through the intercession of Mary, have the grace we need to “do whatever he tells” us.
Third Glorious Mystery: The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance and Trust in God
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15).
Think about: Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom is more than just his making a promise of a better world to come—he is calling each one of us to conversion. Conversion means change, and sometimes that can painful. It requires humility, and it requires reconciliation. Are there ways that we are living at odds with the way God asks us to live? Do we struggle to accept Church “rules” and wish to change everything but ourselves? In what ways have we hardened our hearts to the Good News that Jesus proclaimed—that there is in our midst a mighty Savior, who will rejoice over us with gladness and renew us in his love (Zephaniah 3:17) Let us pray for the grace to have humble hearts and to seek to be united with Christ and His Church this season through the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Transfiguration
Fruit of the Mystery: Desire for Holiness
"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light" (Mt 17:1-2).
Think about: How many of us want to be holy… but not yet (to paraphrase St. Augustine)? We can often think of holiness as being boring, or passive, or irrelevant. But on Mt. Tabor, where the Transfiguration occurred, Jesus allows Peter, James, and John to see beyond their own limited, human view—they get a glimpse of his glory, and all they want to do is bask in his presence. They are filled with joy. Shouldn’t we ask the same: that we love the Lord so much that we just want to be in his presence? It has less to do with who we are than Who we are with. May the eyes of our hearts be open to the Lord’s glory and may we allow ourselves to experience the joy of living with Christ. May we care more about being with Jesus than we do about anything else in this life.
Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist
Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration
"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body"' (Mt 26:26).
Think about: The same Jesus who gave us his body and blood to save us, is the Child born at Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. We may not fully grasp the plan of God, or his ways, but we can let ourselves be filled with awe and gratitude that He loved us enough to come into the midst of our dark and chaos-filled world, and our lonely and hurting hearts. As we so often sing this time of year,
“Come and behold him
Born the King of Angels:
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”
*APOSTOLIC LETTER ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II