The second Luminous mystery is the first Miracle of Jesus, it can be found in the Gospel of John (2:1-11). Mary, Jesus and his disciples were invited to a wedding, some speculate it was some relative of Mary, and the wine runs out. Mary tells Jesus “They have no wine” at which Jesus replies “Aw Mom, what has this to do with me? My hour has not yet come”. Mary turned to the servants and said do whatever he (Jesus) tells you. The servants filled barrels with water and brought it to the chief steward and remarked that usually you have the good wine first, but this is some good stuff. The fruit of this mystery is to Jesus through Mary and the understanding of the ability to manifest-through faith. As we go throughout the rest of the week let us all remember the words of Mary to the servants “Do whatever he tells you”. We need to listen to what’s being said and act on it, we can’t be pussy-footing around doing nothing, there are things to be done and we should do them.
Today in America it is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day of service but to many it’s just a federal holiday. Sure we all know the I Have a Dream speech, but there are several other sermons and speeches that should be remembered as well. In one of his earliest recorded sermons was one from 28 February 1954 at the Second Baptist Church in Detroit is entitled “Rediscovering Lost Values.” It seems like it could have been written recently especially with “There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong. I don’t think we have to look too far to see that. I’m sure that most of you would agree with me in making that assertion. And when we stop to analyze the cause of our world’s ills, many things come to mind.” He says that the problems lie in the hearts and souls of Men (and women). “We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. ” In this sermon MLK points out that to go forward sometimes we need to do backward to do so, using the story of the finding in the temple as Mary and Joseph went back for Jesus in Jerusalem instead of continuing home. So perhaps our current state is the only way for us to move forward as a nation.
Sure this points toward the general idea that we need God, with so many irreligious in the younger generations (Gen X, Y and Z) this continues to be a struggle we face today as well. We all need to return to some religion or some other moral guidelines to show us how to behave and how to interact with others. If you’ve got some spare time today perhaps read through this sermon or some of the others.
We have just enough week until Lent to do all the Luminous Mysteries the decade added by John Paul II. The first Mystery of Light is the Baptism of the Lord and it can be found in several places in the Gospels (Matthew 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–23). The fruit of this mystery is openness to the Holy Spirit. As John was baptizing in the Jordan Jesus came and was baptized, and heaven opened and a dove appeared over the head of Jesus and a voice cried out “This is my beloved son, with whom I am pleased.” This is a message that we all need to remember we are the beloved children of the almighty and he/she is pleased with us. Let us all be willing and open for the Spirit to come into our lives.
Turning to the final Joyful Mystery we skip forward a couple of years in the life of Jesus. It is like the other mysteries found in Luke’s Gospel this time at 2:41-52. Jesus was about twelve years old and Mary, Joseph and their friends/relatives traveled to Jerusalem for Passover and on the day they were returning home to Nazareth Jesus lingered in the Temple while his parents and all left. Mary and Joseph though Jesus was with the group but they eventually found out that Jesus was not there so Mary and Joseph returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus after three days. The fruit of this mystery is True Conversion (Piety, Joy of Finding Jesus). It’s like the Parable of the Lost Lamb/Good Shepherd where the shepherd goes out and looks for the one lost lamb and when it is found the shepherd rejoices in finding it calling their friends and celebrating. We are all like Jesus here doing our own things but someone is looking for us and they will rejoice when you are found. Let this year be one in which we rejoice in helping to find one another not as enemies but as equals.
As we move forward in the joyful mysteries we make our way to the Presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple. It is found in Luke’s Gospel 1:22-40, as Mary and Joseph were fulfilling the ancient rites, Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, according to the Torah (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12–15). Luke points out that Joseph and Mary take the option provided for poor people, sacrificing “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Perhaps this is why turtledove make list of gifts in the song The twelve days of Christmas. While they presented Jesus in the Temple they met with the prophets Simeon and Anna. The fruit of this mystery is Gift of Wisdom and Purity of mind and body (Obedience). Let us all be like Simeon as we keep our minds ever towards the Lord and remember that God always keeps promises as he allowed Simeon to see the Savior before Simeon died.
Nunca Dimittis is one of the canticles in the Gospel of Luke. It follows
- Lord, now let your servant depart in peace according to your word. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people; To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of your people Israel.
The third Joyful mystery is the Nativity, the Birth of Jesus. It is found in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 2), now on Christmas they do read from the first chapters of Matthew and John as well, depending on which Mass you attend. The fruit of this mystery is Poverty, Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of Riches, Love of the Poor. I always have found it ironic that for one of the most commercial of all the religious holidays the focus is poverty, sure I understand why as Christ humbled himself to be born a human and he arrives in the world in the lowliest of places, his parents had traveled from a far, there was no room at the inn and so he was laid in a manger in a stable/cave. As we enter into this third week of Advent we talk about rejoicing, but let us also remember that this season isn’t about what we get but the time we share with family and friends.
Over the last week of Advent there is a special prayers that are prayed/sung during Vespers, from December 17-23, each day is a different name of Jesus used in the Bible. This is an ancient tradition dating back to the sixth century. Please note that I am using the translation from the Church of England’s Book of Common Worship as it is much closer to the Latin and the one that the USCCB has online is horrible in comparison.
December 17: O Wisdom (Sapientia), coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.
December 18: O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
December 19: O Root of (Radix) Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
December 20: O Key of (Clavis) David and scepter of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
December 21: O Morning Star/Dayspring/Radiant Dawn (Oriens, rising Sun), splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
December 22: O King of the nations (Rex Gentium), and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.
December 23: O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.
If you have the time and want to pray Vespers this upcoming week more power to you. I hope that we all can take the lessons from this season and remember them throughout the year.
The second Joyful mystery is the Visitation. This is when Mary goes and visits her cousin Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. It is found in Luke’s Gospel 1:39-56. After hearing that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant Mary went to visit her. Now Elizabeth lived a little some speculate it was south of Jerusalem, in Hebron or even in Ein Karem, wherever it was Mary traveled from Nazareth to visit about a 150 mile journey which would take a couple of days to get there. When Mary arrived Elizabeth was about six months pregnant and Mary stayed until she had given birth to John. The feast day is on 31 May for the Western Church and 30 March in the Eastern Church.
The feast was first celebrated by the Franciscans and by 1263 it was spreading around to other churches in the Franciscan Breviary. Pope Urban VI hoping to end the Western Schism in 1389 added it to the Roman calendar, the official list of feast days of the church. It wasn’t until 1969 when the feast was moved to May so that it would be between the Annunciation (25 March) and the Nativity of John the Baptist (24 June) to better align with the Gospels.
The fruit of this mystery is love of neighbor. As we approach the Christmas season we will expect to look out toward our neighbors and celebrate with them this great feast however how often is it that we care more about ourselves or what’s on the screens in front of us than those living next door. Let us all try to go out and meet our neighbors since we all live in a community and they are it.
The first Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation, the event when Mary was visited by an angel of the Lord, Gabriel, who told Mary that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. It is found in Luke’s Gospel 1:26-38. There is another shorter annunciation to Joseph that happens in Matthew’s Gospel 1:18-23. We can also find it mentioned in the Quran in various places of an Angel coming to Mary. The feast day of the Annunciation is March 25 and is one of the 12 great feasts in the Orthodox church as well.
The fruit of the mystery is humility. This is a great virtue to ponder as we enter into the season of Advent since Christ himself humbled himself to be born on earth. Mary also willingly said yes, Let it be done unto me according to your will. We need to try to become individuals who are willing to say yes and in this day and age it would be wonderful if humility became the in vogue thing, so everyone wouldn’t be talking about what they’ve done and how important they are in the world. Sure we can look to the saints like Francis of Assisi or Mother Theresa are two of the easiest examples, but most saints are great examples of living a humble life. If you want to turn to the living Pope Francis is noted for his humility and sure we can talk about some of those big names Warren Buffett as well as several big named celebrities, but everyone should show some ounce of humility.
Next Sunday, December 3, we will begin the new Liturgical Year as we have reached the First Sunday of Advent. This is the time of year when we move to a new selection of readings as the Lectionary rotates in a three year cycle through most of the bible. This upcoming year is Year B where we read the Gospel of Mark and chapter 6 of the Gospel of John. While many people spent this past weekend getting Christmas trees and setting them up as well as decorating for the festive holiday we should all remember that this is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. Advent is sort of like the season of Lent were we can deepen our faith by exploring it. It’s like the Parable of the 10 bridesmaids where five had brought extra oil and the other five didn’t while they were waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. We await the arrival of Christ Jesus at Christmas, but also at his second coming whenever that may be. This is a season of waiting, so let us wait, in society today with everything at our fingertips we’ve forgotten how to wait. Let us all try to be more patient as we wait in the darkness lighting another candle each week so the bridegroom can see where to go.
I will be returning to the Rosary in Advent starting with the Joyful Mysteries, next Friday, December 8 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception a Holy Day of Obligation. This year I think I will post the O Anthiphons over the last seven days of Advent. This year is a short Advent as the fourth week last all of a day, Christmas Eve. I hope that as the liturgical season changes we all can turn our eyes towards faith.