Meditations on

The  Luminous  Mysteries

of the Holy Rosary

by Robert T. Harrell

The Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17

The Wedding and First Miracle at Cana

John 2: 1-11

Jesus' Public Ministry:   The Kingdom of God

Matthew 4: 12 - 26: 16

The Transfiguration

Matthew 17: 1-9

The Holy Eucharist

Matthew 26: 17-35

The Baptism of Jesus

 

John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord, speaks in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets whose words anticipate God’s Messiah. John is the end of that line, a man of the Old Testament whose words and actions initiate the New Testament (see Mark 1:1) that comes to us through Jesus. St. Matthew tells us that John thought it should be the other way around, that Jesus should baptize him, but Jesus insists that John proceed “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Jesus has come to where the sinners are. John’s baptism anticipates Christian baptism, but it is not the same thing. John baptizes as a sign of repentance in preparation for Christ; Christian baptism, which will come after Jesus’ death and resurrection, will be the Church’s Sacrament of new birth by which one is united to the Lord’s death and resurrection (see Romans 6: 3-14). John cannot foresee this. Why does Jesus have John baptize him? The Lord wills to engage fallen human beings in their place of need; he meets us in the place of repentance; he joins himself to my repentance to flood it with grace. He through whom “all things were made” (John 1: 1-5) has become man and entered the waters of the Jordan River to stand alongside the sinners who need him, imparting his divine life to the waters that will one day be used in the Sacrament of Baptism. Here he further reveals just how fully he is “Emmanuel,  God with us” (Matthew 1:23). May the prayers of the most holy Mother of God direct the Holy Spirit to make my repentance genuine and my heart yearn to embrace Jesus who has found me where the sinners are.

 

The Wedding and First Miracle at Cana

The wedding party has run out of wine! What could be more disastrous at a Jewish wedding celebration in the first century? It would mean a premature end to the festivities for which many had traveled some distance. Mary intercedes. Her Son’s response seems strange to us, as if he is dismissing her and brushing off her concern. Not so! In the idiom of Aramaic, the language of daily discourse in first century Palestine, it would paraphrase into something like this: Hey, mom! What’s the big deal? Is this what you think I’m all about? When my time really comes, it will be much more serious than this! (see John 2: 4). It has all the hallmarks of a personal interaction between a mother and her son who have a familiarity that only family members can share. She tells the servants: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2: 5). She speaks with authority; having spoken to Jesus as only his mother can, she orders the servants to obey. This wonderful scene with its familial tone and domestic concerns reveals to us the relationship that the Mother of God has to the whole household of the Church. When we find ourselves in need, she intercedes for us to the Lord and calls us to obedience. In so doing, she continues to live out the first words of the Magnificat, “My soul proclaims (magnifies) the greatness of the Lord” (Luke 1: 46). Her presence at the wedding feast calls our attention to Jesus; as his servants, she calls us to hear and obey him. We first hear her, but she quickly becomes transparent and turns our attention to him. This is always Our Lady’s role; her whole life and love are for her Son, to make him seen and heard, and she loves us as members of his Body the Church. Jesus changes water into wine, a sign that points to that wine of his precious Blood that will be shed in his “hour” and which we drink in the Mass. The water of Jewish ritual cleansing, able to clean only the outward body, must yield to the wine of Christ’s Blood that cleanses the soul. May the prayers of the most holy Mother of God turn my eyes to behold Jesus’ sacrifice and direct my will to obey his every word.

 

Jesus' Public Ministry:

The Kingdom of God

 

Jesus called the 12 disciples to him and took them with him for three years as he preached, taught, and healed those whom he encountered. He called people to repentance and genuine faith, exhorting them to denounce the false practice of religion as it had been distorted by legalistic and greedy leaders more interested in their own power and privilege than in the real encounter with the living God. Because this entrenched Jewish establishment did not reflect the true faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and because Jesus spoke with authority to identify false religion and called his hearers to true faith, tension built to an intolerable level. All four of the Gospels record the escalation of this basic difference between Jesus and the Jewish authorities of his day that led finally to his arrest, trial and crucifixion. Despite this, Jesus never ceased to pour out divine life on those who were willing to receive it from him. The Kingdom of God is in essence the presence and activity of Jesus Christ. Through his humanity he gives us his divinity, casting out darkness by his light, casting out lies by the truth, and healing human brokenness, spiritual and physical, in every form. In the public ministry of Jesus the kingdom of darkness and death is invaded and exposed for the terrible shrunken terror that it is. St. Paul writes that Christ has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins” (Colossians 1: 13-14). May the prayers of the most holy Mother of God guide me to seek Christ’s Kingdom, work for the spread of his Kingdom and never rest until all darkness is overcome.

The Transfiguration

 

On Mount Tabor Peter, James and John see Jesus radiant with divine light as he converses with Moses and Elijah. Eastern Orthodox icons of this scene often picture Peter, James and John falling down headlong with their sandals flying off their feet, the blue-white rays of light penetrating their eyes as the glory of the Son of God is manifested through his humanity. The stunning radiance of Christ’s divinity had been veiled from their sight until this moment; it overwhelms them. We remember Moses in Exodus chapter 33 who, after seeing the back of God’s glory as he passes by, must veil his face when he approaches the Israelites to protect them from the divine light that radiates from him after his encounter with God (ch. 34). In the Transfiguration, Moses stands with Jesus whose light is that same light he encountered on Mt. Sinai almost 1500 years earlier. Elijah also stands with Jesus, conversing with him in this splendid light. We remember Elijah’s departure from his earthly life in a chariot and whirlwind of divine fire (II Kings chapter 2). Moses, who received the divine Torah, and Elijah, the great prophet, bear witness to Jesus’ divinity and sovereignty. But the three disciples did not yet understand, and only in retrospect after Christ’s death and resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost will St. Peter write: “For we have not by following artificial fables, made known to you the power, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; be we were eyewitness of his greatness. For he received from God the Father, honour and glory: this voice coming down to him from the excellent glory: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.’ And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount” (2 Peter 1: 16-18). The Transfiguration is a turning point. Jesus sets a course for Jerusalem, where his public ministry will come to an as he faces arrest, trial and crucifixion. May the prayers of the most holy Mother of God turn my eyes to behold the glory of the Lord in the midst of trial and suffering.

 

 

The Holy Eucharist

 

Jesus own words: “This is my Body; . . . This is my Blood of the new testament. . .” (see Matthew 26) say it all. At the Passover meal Jesus gave himself to his disciples so that they and all Christians since that night may have direct access to him. As they called the great events of the Exodus from Egypt into full force in their Passover that night, Jesus instituted the Mass, that sacrifice whereby the full force of his passion and death passes through our lips to make our lives one with his. Anamnesis (remembrance) means to bring the full weight of a completed action in the past into full force in the present. The Mass is direct access to Jesus opened to us in a solemn act of anamnesis. Jesus the risen Lord feeds us by his own hand with the Body and Blood of his sacrifice to heal and renew us. In the face of this mystery, we must bow the knee. By Jesus’ words spoken bread truly becomes his Body; wine truly becomes his Blood. St. Thomas Aquinas gave us a word for what happens in the Mass: Transubstantiation—the essence or substance (inner reality) of the bread and wine are changed by the action of the Holy Spirit to become Christ’s Body and Blood. When the priest consecrates the elements, they are no longer bread and wine, although the accidents (outward physical properties) remain to our senses as bread and wine. St. Augustine wrote that, if we could actually see what is truly present under the veils of bread and wine, we would be unable to approach because of the glory. St. John Chrysostom, in his instructions to the newly baptized, wrote that Satan must flee from us when he sees our lips and tongue red with Christ’s Blood after we receive Holy Communion. On the night before he died, Jesus gave us this; he knew we would need him in this direct and concrete way, and in his mercy he has provided for us. May the prayers of the most holy Mother of God deepen my hunger for Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist and strengthen my fellowship with the whole of Christ’s Body both in earth and in heaven.

 

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