Published fall 2021, Prince William County Catholic Magazine
by Jean Mondoro
Among the mysteries of the Rosary, probably the least familiar are the Luminous Mysteries, also called the Mysteries of Light. These were instituted by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2002, encouraging us to reflect upon the public life of Christ. He identified 5 critical points in Jesus’ public ministry: 1) The Baptism of Our Lord; 2) The Wedding at Cana; 3) The Proclamation of the Kingdom; 4) The Transfiguration; and 5) The Institution of the Eucharist.
Regarding meditation upon these specific mysteries, I have found that these five are often the most difficult. But it is important not to overthink the idea of meditation. Simply recall what is happening in the story, then allow yourself to hear and see whatever God wants you to. The biggest thing is to avoid actively thinking of other things. By keeping your mind as clear and focused as you can, this will open the door to the Holy Spirit, who will touch your heart, even if you don’t notice right away.
I’ll go through some of my own reflections, which I hope will spark some of your own thoughts. And remember to always keep your heart open, because the Holy Spirit truly does put thoughts and reflections into your mind which is one way that God speaks to us. It is also a good practice to say a quick prayer asking the Holy Spirit to touch your heart with whatever God wants you to hear. So, let us quiet our minds for prayer and start at the beginning.
The Baptism of Our Lord is the first Luminous Mystery and the start to His public ministry. So, how do we reflect on this event in the life of Christ? I like to focus on considering how these events prove God’s love for me. It’s almost like I believe in His love because that’s what my Catholic faith is all about. But it is so important to look at what He did, not just what He said, because it’s just more evidence that He loves me.
The first thing Jesus did in this mystery was simply receive the sacrament. Baptism is the beautiful sacrament in which we are forgiven from original sin, and it is so important that Jesus Himself received it. Think about that for a second. Jesus was fully God, so He didn’t need to be baptized. But He was also fully man, and so He chose to be baptized. This is a tremendous example of the importance of this sacrament. Going along with this is the concept of leading by example. Jesus did this better than anyone. He knew the vital importance of the sacrament of baptism, and the most effective way that He could teach this was by receiving it–or doing it– Himself.
There is a very specific virtue which shines forth in this mystery, and in Christ’s actions, and that virtue is humility. Jesus is showing true humility when He, the Savior of the world, chooses to receive this great sacrament from a human being. He did not put Himself above all of us, even though there is no denying He is, being fully divine. What Jesus did was humble Himself to receive the sacrament of baptism as we receive it: from another human being, allowing God to work through this person and thus sharing in our humanity, which is what He did when He came to earth in the humble and dependent form of a baby.
Now that we have considered the actions and virtues of Jesus in this mystery, how can we apply these lessons to our own lives? How beautiful it is to think about our own baptism, when we came into God’s family without original sin! For most of us, this decision was made by our parents, and we were baptized as infants. They started us along the path to holiness by taking this first step. And for those of us who were baptized later in life, it is the day that you chose to enter into God’s family. Whenever we receive this sacrament it is important that we are forever grateful for that day and the graces which came with it. Similarly, John the Baptist and Jesus were both thankful for the gift of the day of the Lord’s baptism. Their gratitude shows us how we should also praise God for our parents, godparents and everyone else who guided us to our baptism days.
In reflecting upon the Baptism of Our Lord, the first Luminous Mystery, we can see three beautiful examples which we can imitate in our own faith journeys. Jesus not only said that He loved us, but showed us His love through His actions. He also exemplified true humility by receiving the sacrament in the same way that we receive it as human beings. And lastly, we see in both Christ and John the Baptist the gratitude we must feel for the gift of forgiveness from original sin.
May we always see the baptism of our Lord as a reminder of the hope we have if we remain in God’s family from the day we enter into it with forgiveness of original sin until the day we are called home.