Mysteries of the Rosary

First Luminous Mystery : The Baptism of the Lord

The Luminous mysteries are revealing or revelatorymysteries. Christ, one of us, is also the son of the Father, the miracle worker, the challenging God, the risen Lord, and God’s love broken and shared with the whole of humanity.

The Rosary is called a synthesis or compendium of the Gospel, the mysteries of light make the Rosary even more complete. They also show that the Rosary is at heart a Christian’s prayer. John Paul II in his recent Apostolic Letter on the Rosary summarizes the meaning of the Rosary with these words, “With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the School of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty of the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.”

When Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries to the three already existing mysteries of the Rosary, my heart immediately responded with “Right on!” For years I had been puzzled with the “public ministry gap,” which, in my mind, had left a big hole in the traditional sequence of the Rosary’s Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries. What had been left out was a large part of the Gospel story, namely, the public ministry of Jesus. Therefore, we will now reflect briefly upon five major events in Jesus’ public ministry, which Pope John Paul II has described as the Luminous Mysteries.

At the moment of baptism, the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus and the Father says, “Here is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. God says the very same thing to all of us and he is saying it right now! This is the key to living like Jesus! At the moment of our baptism, the Holy Spirit penetrated deep within us and the Lord said, “You are my beloved child! In you I am well pleased!” It is Satan’s fundamental strategy to convince me that God does not love me because I am unworthy. This conviction leads to a disordered search to build an alternative identity on the false foundations of the things that I achieve or the things that I possess. My true identity is the identity I took on at baptism: that of beloved child of God who is a source of great happiness for the Lord!

The story of the suffering servant in Isaiah is the key for interpreting this Gospel story of the baptism of Jesus. The servant of the Lord in Isaiah’s text has the onerous task of bringing complete justice to the earth. How is he to accomplish this extraordinary undertaking? The foundation of his mission is his radical relationship with God! The servant is someone chosen by God, loved by God, set apart by God, appointed by God, endowed by God. We see the exact same thing in the Gospel account from Matthew. John at first declines to baptize Jesus, saying that such an act would demean Jesus. But Jesus is not interested in being assigned a place in the human table of honour! He submits to the baptism and at this moment the foundation of his extraordinary mission of salvation is revealed. In a manifestation of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit descends on him and the voice of the Father is heard. “This is my son, the beloved, on whom my favour rests”. Woe to us if we do not see in this text the meaning of our own baptism! Our position in the church does not depend on systems of human honour, status or posturing. We belong to God by virtue of the fact that in baptism he has chosen us, he has set us apart so that we can be extraordinary, he has carried us away from our old selves and inserted us into the life of the Trinity. Our Christian life and mission are utterly founded on the fact of his unconditional love for us, not on our talents, status or accomplishments.