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Rosary Meditations: The Luminous Mysteries

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The First Luminous Mystery

The Baptism of the LordJesus is baptized by John in the Jordan River


Matthew 3:13-17 – Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Points for Meditation

At the beginning, the Father grants his Son the consolation of his voice. He won’t on the cross.

“The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s Suffering Servant” (Catechism, 536).

In baptism, Christ “procured for us a ‘shortcut’ to salvation” (Catechism, 518).

“Already he is coming to “fulfill all righteousness’, that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will” (Catechism, 536).

“The Christian must … go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father’s beloved son in the Son and walk in newness of life” (Catechism, 537).

John didn’t point to anything but Christ: He was created for that. That’s what I was created for, too.

For John, only Christ’s standards mattered, not the world’s. What are my priorities?

Water is necessary for life; similarly, baptism is necessary for eternal life. I should be anxious to give that life to others.

People were attracted to John, despite his appearance, because of his fidelity to God and his principles.

John isn’t afraid to challenge people to change, and so he betters their lives and is remembered by history.


The Second Luminous Mystery

The Wedding Feast at Cana Jesus performs his first public miracle at his mother’s request.


John 2:1-11 – On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.  Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.  Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

Points for Meditation

Here we find “the great maternal counsel, which Mary addresses to the Church of every age: ‘Do whatever he tells you’” (Pope John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 21).

“What is this to me?” is not so much a rebuke as a recognition that a public miracle will lead to Jesus’ death.

From the beginning, Christ imparts the faith to his disciples through Mary, “the first among believers” (Rosarium, 21).

Jesus at Cana “gives a sign, in which he proclaims his hour, the hour of the wedding-feast, the hour of union between God and man” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, Sept. 11 2006).

Jesus “transforms the human wedding-feast into an image of the divine wedding-feast … in which he gives us every good thing, represented by the abundance of wine” (Pope Benedict XVI, 2006 Homily).

Christ “revealed his glory” by making wine. He also reveals his glory to us by enriching our lives in very human ways.

“His disciples began to believe in him” based on this miracle. We see a greater miracle at each Mass.

Christ chose this for his first public miracle in part to show his regard for marriage.

If we bring our needs to Mary, she will take care of them with her son.

Christ announced his ministry in the Temple, then began it in Cana. My Christian mission is launched in Church .. but it takes place in the world.

Christ transforms ordinary things (water) into extraordinary things (wine). He can transform my marriage.


The Third Luminous Mystery

The Proclamation of the Kingdom Jesus announces the coming of the Kingdom and forgives sins.


Mark 2:3-12 – Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”— he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Points for Meditation

“The kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on earth by Christ. … The Church is the seed and beginning of this kingdom. Its keys are entrusted to Peter” (Catechism, 567)

Christ’s whole early life – his words and deeds, his silences and sufferings, indeed his manner of being and speaking – tell us who God is and what he is like (Catechism, 561).

“To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little” (Catechism, 561).

“Everyone is called to enter the kingdom” (Catechism, 543)

One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know its secrets.” “Outside” it, everything remains enigmatic (Catechism, 546).

“Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom” (Catechism, 545) and “forgives the sins of all who draw near him in humble trust” (Rosarium, 21)

Christ is king of everything: truth, my leisure time, the business world, my family. Do I let him reign?

I pray “Thy kingdom come” but the next part of the Our Father demands something of me: “Thy will be done.”

“[T]here is no human activity – even in secular affairs – which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion” (Lumen Gentium, 36).

Praying “Thy kingdom come” “means working to enrich American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives” (Pope Benedict XVI, Yankee Stadium, 2008).


The Fourth Luminous Mystery

The Transfiguration – Jesus is transfigured, dazzling white, on Mount Tabor.


Matthew 17 1-9 – After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” 8And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Points for Meditation

“Christ’s Transfiguration aims at strengthening the apostles’ faith in anticipation of his passion: The ascent on the high mountain prepares for the ascent to Calvary” (Catechism, 568).

“For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter’s confession” (Catechism, 555).

“Moses and Elijah had seen God’s glory on the mountain; the law and teh prophets had announced the Messiah’s sufferings” (Catechism, 555).

“The whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice, the Son in the man, teh Spirit in the shining cloud” (Catechism, 555).

“The Transfiguraion gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming … But it also recalls that ‘it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God’“ (Catechism, 556).

“According to the senses, the light of the sun is the most intense ever known in nature. But according to the spirit, the disciples saw for a short time a brightness more intense: that of the divine glory of Jesus” (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, 2011).

The three apostles were rewarded for 1)saying Yes to Christ’s invitation, 2) praying, and 3) staying close to him.

They saw who Christ really was. I saw the beauty of who my spouse really is. do I guard that “Tabor vision”? or do I focus on my spouse’s falts? (cf. von Hildebrand)

Think of the Transfiguration when praying the Glory Be prayer.

St. John wrote that if your love for God is cold you should recall to your mind a time when it was fresh and exciting so that your passion will return.


The Fifth Luminous Mystery

The Institution of the Eucharist At the Last Supper, Christ changes bread and wine into his body and blood.


1Corinthians 11: 23-29 – For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Points for Meditation

God said, “Let there be light.” And there was. Here he says, “This is my body.” And it is.

“Jesus freely offered himself for our salvation. During the Last Supper, he both symbolized this offering and made it really present” (Catechism, 621).

“Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it. By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests” (Catechism, 611).

Eleven of Christ’s first 12 priests betrayed or abandoned him.

Pope Benedict XVI called the Eucharist “a gift of love that is truly worth more than all the rest of life.”

Through real communion with his body and blood, “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us” (Catechism, 521).

If I were given a hammer and nails, or a sword, at Mass, the message would be obvious: Build something, or fight. I’m given Christ. I am to bring him to the world.

Christ is present in the Eucharist whether I feel his presence or not – but if I forgive more, pray more and serve more, I will “feel” his presence more, too.

Heaven is like a big, joyous wedding feast. And it starts at Mass.

The Eucharist is the encounter with Christ par excellence. Who was the last person I invited back to Mass?


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Tom Hoopes


Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II, The Fatima Family Handbook and What Pope Francis Really Said, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia and the Register. He lives in Atchison, Kansas, with his wife, April, and has nine children.