The First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
The Angel Gabriel announces the incarnation to Mary.
Luke 1:28-35, 38 – And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. … Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Points for Meditation
- God makes our redemption dependent on Mary’s free decision (Catechism, No. 488).
- Mary said “Yes “in the name of all human nature” (Catechism, No. 511).
- What Eve lost through disobedience, Mary gained again by obedience (Catechism, No. 494)
- This is the moment of the Incarnation: The Word becomes flesh. God becomes a tiny embryo.
- “The first man was from earth, a man of the dust; the second man is from heaven” (Catechism, 504).
- Since Christians are the mystical body of Christ, Mary became our mother, too, at the Annunciation (Catechism, 973).
- As he does with Mary, God wants to become intimately and closely associated with me.
- Messengers of God, in daily circumstances and opportunities, come to me, too. I need only pay attention.
- Mary says Yes to God without knowing the whole picture – what will happen and how it all will end. I shouldn’t demand God give me the whole picture, either.
- God became an embryo – I shouldn’t refuse opportunities that would be good even if I think them “beneath me.”
The Second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation
Mary visits Elizabeth.
Luke 1:39-48 – During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”
Points for Meditation
- Mary is quick to aid Elizabeth; she will be quick to aid me.
- The practice of authentic Christian charity is the essence of Christianity.
- Elizabeth calls the unborn Jesus “Lord” (and John the Baptist witnesses to him) at the very beginning of Mary’s pregnancy.
- The angel Gabriel’s words and Elizabeth’s together make up the bulk of the Hail Mary prayer.
- Mary is humble but says the Magnificat (which begins in the passage given here). The humble recognize their giftedness and worth, which come from God.
- Christ is the center of these scenes, but he stays hidden, unseen, as he does in our lives.
- Like Elizabeth, we should be eager to recognize Christ in others.
- Like Mary, we should bring Christ into the homes of others.
- Mary’s first Christian apostolate was doing household chores. Mostly, our Christian life means small things done with love.
- It is Christ in her that makes Mary attractive and that draws people’s attention. He wants to use me in the same way.
The Third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity
Jesus is born in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:6-14 – While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.”
Points for Meditation
- Imagine being all-powerful God – and limiting yourself to the abilities of a baby. That’s love.
- Shepherds, not known for their piety, were the first to receive the good news.
- “The Magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the King of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel the … King of the nations” (Catechism, 528).
- The world usually either bitterly opposes Christ, like Herod, or is indifferent to him, like the innkeepers.
- Baby Jesus had no words to offer, only his presence. And it was enough to attract a lot of attention.
- Christ can be quiet, almost imperceptible. He’s also the God of glory, angel choirs and supernovas.
- An innkeeper who could have been transformed by Christ – even his business might have prospered – refused. How often do we refuse to let Christ into our lives?
- We can count on God’s answers to our prayers, but often in unexpected ways – a stable instead of a room.
- The Wise Men read the books, learned where to find Christ, and traveled for days to meet him. For us he’s a short drive away, in the tabernacle.
- The Wise Men give their best to God. Do we give our best time, best efforts, best talents? Or what we don’t want anyway?
The Fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation
Mary and Joseph present Jesus in the Temple.
Luke 2:25-35 – Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Points for Meditation
- “The presentation of Jesus in the Temple shows him to be the firstborn son who belongs to the Lord” (Catechism, 529).
- Simeon’s faith allowed him to recognize Christ.
- “The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s cross” (Catechism, 529). Simeon foretells pain for Christ – and his followers.
- Trust in God’s promises sustained Simeon.
- Christ’s religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law (Catechism, 31).
- Joseph’s offering was a poor man’s alternative to a lamb. God wants me to sacrifice even in small things, too.
- Simeon was content after one glimpse of Christ. The Eucharist gives me many glimpses.
- This encounter with Christ takes place in the Temple. For us, it happens in the Church.
- I should present Christ in the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” my body.
- Anna, in the scene that follows this passage, “Talked about the child to all.” My encounters with Christ should lead to evangelization.
The Fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding in the Temple
Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple.
Luke 2:41-51 – Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
Points for Meditation
- Joseph and Mary assumed Jesus was with members of their close-knit extended family in which cousins were “brothers.”
- Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to his mission: “I must be about my Father’s work” (Catechism, 534).
- “Even the closest of human relationships are challenged by the absolute demands of the Kingdom” (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 20)
- Jesus’ obedience to his mother and legal father fulfills the fourth commandment perfectly and mirrors his obedience to his Father in heaven” (Catechism, 532)
- In the hidden years of Jesus we learn the importance of: Silence, family life, work and the ordinary events of daily life (Catechism, 533).
- The holy Family made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year. Do I take my family on special trips to holy places?
- Feel like you’ve lost Christ? You can always find him in the tabernacle.
- Jesus imparts wisdom to the rabbis who listen in the Temple. He will give me wisdom if I spend time with him in the tabernacle.
- Mary’s question is direct, simple and honest: “Why have you done this to us?” our prayers should be direct, simple and honest.
- Joseph and Mary “do not understand” Jesus’ answer, and yet they accept it (Catechism, 534). Do I accept, or demand to know it all up front?