THE FIVE LUMINOUS MYSTERIES
The First Luminous Mystery: – The Baptism of Our Lord
Every time I meditate on this, my thoughts are drawn to God’s word when the heavens opened. “Behold, my beloved Child, whom I am well pleased”. Was God pleased with His Baptism, or His life before the Baptism? I will assume both.
Prior to the Baptism, little is said of Christ except that once the parents found him after he got lost in the temple, he went home with them and lived in obedience. We see the role of Mary and Joseph in bringing up a child whose life was pleasing to God, pleasing enough for Him to open up the heavens and declare that Jesus Life was pleasing to Him. Parenthood requires us to not only to procreate, that is get children, but also educate them. Educate them such that they live lives pleasing to God. Many times, when Incense is burned in church, I ask myself, if my life is this smoke blowing up to the nostrils of God, would he be pleased with the aroma? As a parent, am I living a life that is a good example to my children? When I teach them that being God’s child means sharing what we have, for instance in their little lives, toys and their plate of fruits or playing games together, am I a living example to this sharing? When I tell them that God loves children who treat their fellow children well, and are not rude and do not yell or beat up others or cause injury or harm, or throw stones at the others, am I practicing the same things? Sometimes I look at them and tell God, how do I teach them you? How do I teach them to obey you? How do I teach them to live in Obedience to you? It is said that children learn more by example, more than by instruction. I am challenged every day to live a pleasing life because I no longer do it just for myself, I do it for my children too, of whose great responsibility of guiding them to heaven gates lies on my shoulders. How I wish that if heaven’s were to open, God would say, These are my beloved children of whom I am pleased.
How can we live a life that pleases God? In obedience to His commands. And what are his commands? Love. Love for God, Love for mankind. How do we exercise love for God and man in our daily lives? Whatsoever we do to the least of His Brothers, we do to God. This is the gospel we must practice and hope to God our children emulate.
God was pleased with the Baptism too, I assume. Prior to the event, John was hesitant to perform the ceremony. This is after all is Christ whose sandals he is not fit to carry. And this great man whom everyone has been waiting for, who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire wants poor, lowly John to baptize him. But Jesus tells Him “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented (Mathew 3:15). Baptism identifies us with the family of Christians. Jesus, though without sin, wanted everyone He was ministering the Gospel to, to identify Him with the family of believers. Christ did not need to be baptized, not for himself. But so that we stiff-necked people would identify with and accept his message, it was right to fulfill all righteousness. It was God’s will. It is God’s will that we all be baptized. It is God’s desire that we all be a community of believers. Our ancestry tied to Adam compromises our right to be children of God and Our baptism removes the impediment brought about by this ancestry.
There are symbols used during baptism that make me understand the significance of this moment. The white fabric placed on our foreheads that signifies we are new beings in Christ, that our lives are cleansed and we are white as snow, and our responsibility to bring this fabric to the heavenly gates unstained. How do we weak mortal people live untainted? By grace. Grace that reminds us to confess whenever we go wrong, grace that condemns our pride when humility is needed, grace that tells us we have offended the other and we need to apologize, grace that enables us to forgive. The responsibility gets heavier when we are God parents. We must assist these new Christians to bring this fabric to heaven unstained. Do we ever think of this when we are appointed as Gd parents? God parenting does not end with the camera moment. It is a lifetime responsibility of prayer and presence to those who we accept to Godparent. Do we think about this when we are appointing our children’s godparents? Probably not. We should start taking it seriously, because it is not about us. It is about the new souls, new children of faith. It is about the journeying with them until they get to heaven. It is a promise to always pray for them, and if possible always be with them physically whenever possible. It is also a greater responsibility for parents because, by the virtue of our parenthood, we are mandated to make sure our children’s fabric gets to heaven unstained. We are born stained. We have to get to heaven unstained, because nothing stained can enter heaven. Our first responsibility as parents then is to ‘unstain’ our children from the sins of our ancestry, the original sin. While we may plan many things for our unborn children, where they need to be born, where they will live, the kind of schools that they will attend, what they will wear, their beds, rooms and colours, we need to plan for their baptism as soon as they enter this world. A friend of mine had his child baptized on the third day after delivery and I was impressed. Very impressed. We also need to teach them to hold this fabric in reverence, where fabric implies their lives, their character, their values, their activities which should not in any way stain their white fabric.
At our baptism, we also light a candle that symbolizes our new roles as Christians. That we are the light of the world. It is the responsibility of the Christian, the parents of the Christian and the Godparents to ensure the light keeps burning. Is my candle still burning brightly? Are my words and deeds a reflection that I am a child of the light? Are my words and deeds responsible for putting off other people’s candles, or are they making them shine brighter? Is my candle on the table or hidden under the table where the significance of its light is not recognized? Am I honest to my calling to be a child of God and a parent to a child of God? Am I using this candle to illuminate the lives of others or to set fire on their lives? Our candles is evidenced by the good deeds we keep performing. At the end of the day, when I look back on all my daily activities, can I identify any good deed?
The Second Luminous Mystery: – The Wedding at Canaan
Christ and His mother are guests at a wedding in Canaan. Mary notices that the wine is running out and informs Christ. Christ is adamant because “His hour had not come” but because he is still living in obedience, he recognizes the need to respond to his mother’s request. Mary, believing in her son’s capacity tells those who were serving to do what Jesus tells them. And they did as instructed by Christ. The eventual outcome is JOY in the hosts who commended the good wine that was served at the end. Mary recognized the need of the ceremony. Mary recognized her sons’ capacity in fulfilling the need. The hosts were desperate for a solution and in following instructions from Christ, their needs were fulfilled beyond their expectations and there was Joy for everyone.
We are called to be intercessors. We are called to recognize the needs in others and express those needs to Christ. We are called to recognize the need for others and fulfill them whenever we can. This recognition is summed up by Christ on the preaching about Judgement day. “…I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…”. My colleague was telling me of a story of some students who visited her in an office. One went to see her and she did not have food to eat. Another came in shortly after her, she had cooking flour, but she did not have vegetables and she had not paid fees. My colleague told this second student of the needs of the first student. This student requested to share her flour with this first student which in her opinion could make porridge, meaning she could not let the other go hungry and she had something to share. My colleague promised to provide for the vegetables as she waited and prayed for her that another Samaritan would come in to solve the fee problem. Both students got food to eat eventually. And the second by the grace of God also got fees. In another case, my former football captain shared her story in social media. She says that she employed a house help who was very kind to her child. This lady had a son in prison who was serving a life sentence. Through the good relationship with the prisoner’s mother, they started visiting the young man in prison. The relationship grew, though at the time, members were not allowed to see their kin. They spoke to them through a hole. The lady passed away after sometime and my former captain informally adopted this son as her own. She kept visiting him. Eventually with the improvement in prison services, they got to meet and it was an occasion of many tears. She recently attended an open day where they could share a meal and she saw the appreciation and the joy in the young man’s face knowing someone cared enough to visit him. This is what this mystery is teaching us. To recognize the needs of others and strive to fulfill them. We may not be in apposition to offer everything, or anything at all, but we can pray. We can always express those needs to Christ. Christ will find a way of fulfilling them. Who needs food to eat today? Who needs a listening ear? Who needs a nudge of encouragement? Who needs to be visited because they are broken? Who needs a hug? Who needs that boost in paying fees for their child and we have the resource? Who needs a ride to work because they have to get there but they just got employed and they are broke? Who is mourning and needs us to mourn with them? Who needs someone to share that moment of glory with us? Who needs a hand to hold on to just because they need some company in the journey of life and they are very scared of the dark? Who needs that listening ear? How can we respond to these needs? Can we be the servants executing the needs? Or can we be Mother Mary and present the needs to Christ?
There is also a very important aspect we need to remember. Mary’s instruction to listen to what Christ is telling us. Is Christ speaking to me today? What is He telling me? Is he telling me to be a little kinder to my child? Is He telling me to forgive? Is he telling me to respond to any of the needs of those I have encountered? How is He expressing this need? Is it that nudge in the heart? That constant thought of someone at night? That silent scream in your heart to reach out to a long lost friend? Is it the sudden need to talk to someone? Is it that friend of yours telling you about someone else’s story and they are wondering what to do? Is it that scripture that keeps reminding us of a certain experience we just had? That nudge to return kindness for kindness, not necessarily to the same person? Our subconscious usually tells us many things. Our interactions also tells us many things. Sometimes we need to be quiet and listen. Maybe, just maybe, Christ is telling us something.
The third Luminous Mystery: – The proclamation of God’s Kingdom
Christ proclaimed the kingdom of God in the three years of His ministry on earth in many ways. But what we need to note is he did it by word and deed. He preached the gospel to multitudes. He taught his disciples intimately in private. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He visited his friend’s sisters, Martha and Mary when Lazarus passed away. He vehemently condemned what was wrong. He practised what he preached. He preached of a kingdom of Love and lived it. He preached a kingdom of needs recognition. He recognised the need in others and went ahead to fulfil. He preached obedience. He obeyed his father. He preached forgiveness. He forgave those who killed him. He preached mercy. He was Merciful. Our Christian calling is to be Christ like. Are we Christ like? Are we proclaiming the gospel in word and deed? Is our private life different from our public one? If Christ was to come to us in our bedchambers, would we continue doing that which he found us doing? Or would we be as ashamed as Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruit? Do we feed the hungry? Do we visit the sick and those who are mourning? Are we alleviating peoples suffering or are we exacerbating it? Do we do what we are called to do whole heartedly as if we were doing it for God? Our jobs, our families, are the roles we play executed to the best of our ability? What are we holding back from God? In our baptism, we are crowned Kings, priests and prophets. Do we exercise these roles, or were they forgotten at the altar of our baptism? Are we living in obedience to the nature of our calling? Are we living in honesty to our priesthood? Are we living in honesty to our marriage vows? Are we living in honesty to our mission requirements of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience? Are we true to our call to parenthood? Are we true to our lay missionary work? A self-evaluation of our life with regard to our call to be Christ like will allow us to know whether we are proclaiming the Kingdom of God.
At our baptism, we lit a candle that needs to keep burning in our lives. The number of people reached by this light signifies the extent of our ministry. We preach Christ’s ministry first by living it as Christ did. How many grudges do we harbor in our hearts for past hurts? How many times do we narrate this hurts to others? In narrating them, are we preaching Christ? No, we need to forgive, and only refer to the hurt if it is the gospel of forgiveness we are preaching. How many times have we loved and lost? Lost our fiancés, our husbands, and our boyfriends? What do we remember when we think about them? Do we remember them in love for the moments shared or out of hate for the hurt they caused when they left? Are we preaching love for our enemies when we remember them? How many times have we fallen out with our brothers, sisters, parents and spouses? When we preach reconciliation, do we remember we need to reconcile with them or do we say, never ever shall I speak to them? How many times have we done stupid things? Do we remember to ask for forgiveness from God? Do we acknowledge a loving father who forgives even when our sins are as red as crimson? Do we remember that we need to do likewise? How many times do our children go astray? Do we remember that Christ vehemently condemned wrong deeds? Do we condemn wrong acts? Or we look the other way because it is our children or loved ones doing it? Do we remember that we are to condemn the act not the person? Christ instructed a lot. Do we do the same to those who are young in faith? Do we reach out to them when they fall? Are we among those who are jeering at them and laughing because they have fallen? They will know we are Christians by our love. Do we live as children of Love? Children of love recognize needs of others and strive to alleviate them. In doing so, the candle of our lives keep burning.
The Fourth Luminous Mystery: – The transfiguration
Before Christ begins His mission, God declares that Jesus was His Beloved Child of whom He was greatly pleased. After proclaiming the Kingdom of God and is ready to end His ministry here on earth, God again declares His love and pleasure in Jesus. The question I keep asking myself is, when God looks at my life, and if heaven was to open, would He say the same things about me? Have I lived a life pleasing to God. When I was baptized, I a white fabric was symbolically placed on my forehead to show I had been clothed in white. Is my dress still white? If I died today, would I go to heaven?
The fifth Luminous Mystery: – The institution of the Holy Eucharist
Christ knows, with a lot of sadness that his hour has come. He shall be crucified. He will go back to His father. The disciples will be left like sheep without a shepherd. But he wants to share a last meal with his disciples. He wants to make it special. He organizes, through a strange request to a stranger for a room to be set for them. A meal is served. But Christ wanted to leave them with something more than a meal to remember Him by. Something that will not make them feel so lost. Yes, he had promised He will always be with them, yet He still thought he needed a symbol. He knows he is going to be away, but he desires that they will be spiritually strong. Food will give them physical strength, but he desires that they have spiritual food too to guide them through the moments of His physical absence. So while at supper, he takes bread, blesses and breaks it, and tells them, take this all of you and eat it. It is my body. Then he takes a cup and blesses it, tells them, here, drink from this, it is my blood, which will be shed for you and for all. Do this in memory of me.
Every time we receive Holy Communion, we commemorate the death and resurrection of our lord and the significance of all this in our lives. It is a reminder of who Christ was when he was alive, what he did and what he taught us. It is reminder of the sacrifice of love at the cross, and what this means to us in our daily lives. It is a constant reminder that we are children of eternity because by His rising, he went to prepare a place for us in heaven so that “Where I will be, you also will be”. It is a meditation of the whole of the journey of Christ as demonstrated by the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. It is a reminder that I am not alone. In celebrating his memorial, I am reminded of His promises; I am with you till the end of time; I will send you a helper; I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. It is a reality that, just like we get hungry and thirsty in our physical selves, we do get hungry spiritually and need spiritual nourishment. Spiritual nourishment gives us strength to fight our daily battles of faith, that urge to hang on longer to a grudge, that hardened heart that does not see the need to assist where there is need, because we once did and were robbed, that weakness of heart that draws us to valleys of self-pity and depression, that constant conflict we have with those close to us, that unexplained change of behaviour in those we love, that constant weakness that we cannot shake off, with this constant nourishment we can keep walking, trudging, running the race of faith. It is a reminder that I need to keep my garment clean. The temptations of this world, coupled with our vulnerability due to the original sin make us fall often. Since we cannot receive Holy Communion in an unworthy state, it reminds me that I need moments to examine my conscience regularly, I need to make peace with Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation, and make amends so that I can, in my weakness, live a worthy life. A life worthy of heaven. I need to make peace with those I have offended, I need to be at peace with myself, so that I can be at peace with God.