Monday, September 23, 2013

The Rosary in the Bible: Part 5

New to this series? Start at Part 1 here. Or, jump straight to the Joyful, Sorrowful, or Glorious Mysteries.

The final set of "mysteries" for us to explore is the Luminous Mysteries. The luminous mysteries focus on the light of Christ in the world, as a combat to the darkness of sin.

All light is from Jesus.
And God said: Be light made. And light was made. -Genesis 1:3
All things were made by him: and without him was
made nothing that was made. -John 1:3
The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen. -Isaiah 9:2

Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth. Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. -John 12:35-36

And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. -1 John 1:5-7

For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Jesus. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus. -2 Corinthians 4:5-6

These five Luminous Mysteries concern ourselves with the light, both literally and figuratively, of Jesus through the Gospels.

The First Luminous Mystery, the Baptism of Jesus, is our starting point.

And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo,
the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God
descending as a dove, and coming upon him.
And behold a voice from heaven, saying:
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. -Matthew 3:16-17
Demonstrating the need for repentance by example, Jesus goes to His cousin, John, to be baptized. Immediately after, the Holy Spirit descends upon Him while His Father speaks from Heaven - the first revelation of the Trinity.

Beyond that, this is the first instance of Jesus leading by example. Clearly, the sinless God of the Universe has no need to be baptized.

But He leads us by example:

And he spoke also to them a similitude: Can the blind lead the blind? do they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one shall be perfect, if he be as his master. -Luke 6:39-40

By his submission to humanity, Christ gives us the first example to follow. Not blind by any means, but with eyes wide open, Jesus leads us, who are are in darkness, to the "great light" of Himself.

As if that isn't enough, His baptism sets the stage for the Church. When He orders His apostles to "baptize all nations" in Matthew 28:19, He is not arbitrarily giving a command - He is instructing His apostles to be like Him, and to to in turn instruct others to be like Him.

The Baptism of Jesus is outlined in Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:32-34,  Acts 10:37-38 - in all, 15 verses of the New Testament.

Next, we turn our attention to the Second Luminous Mystery: The Wedding at Cana.

AND the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come. His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
-John 2:1-11

While celebrating a wedding, Jesus performed His first public miracle - turning water into wine. How interesting it is that He did so only through the advocacy of His mother, Mary. As we have seen before, Mary is the Queen to Jesus' kingship

Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. -Matthew 5:15

Here, we see Jesus - The Light - giving light to all in the house of God - to Mary, His queen-mother; to the marriage, the culmination of God's first command to humanity ("And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply." -Genesis 1:28); to the wedding guests themselves, first witnesses to Jesus' first miracles on the Earth.

And his mother kept all these words in her heart. -Luke 2:50

The Third Luminous Mystery, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, continues the theme of Christ giving light to world.

Again therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me,
walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life. -John 8:12
But Jesus cried, and said: He that believeth in me, doth not believe in me, but in him that sent me.
And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world; that whosoever believeth in me,
may not remain in darkness
. And if any man hear my words, and keep them not, I do not judge him:
for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. -John 12:44-47
This mystery is both the largest (in sheer verses of Scripture), and, unsurprisingly, the most difficult for some to understand. The proclamation of the Kingdom: what does that entail?

In short, it means that we reflect, study, internalize, and meditate on ALL Jesus revealed about the Kingdom of God.

This includes all of the parables, healings, teachings, analogies, sayings, wisdom, miracles, and instructions Jesus gives for us through the Gospels. This also includes all of the writings, explanations, and teachings of the apostles - those with whom Jesus left His light. In short, the third luminous mystery is a meditation on what it means when Christ said, "I am the light of the world." This "light" is, for the most part, spiritual. The analogy of light as containing God and darkness as lacking God is what is at work here - just as holiness is measured as containing God and sin is measured as lacking God. Jesus' words on the Kingdom help elucidate this point, providing "light," clarity, and understanding to a people "walking in darkness."

A rough estimate puts this mystery as the only one where we count chapters of the Bible: Isaiah 6:9-10, Matthew 4:12 - 25:46, Mark 1:14 - 13:37, Luke 4:14 - 21:38, and John 3:13 - 12:50, to start with.

The Fourth Luminous Mystery, The Transfiguration, does even more to show Christ's light.

AND after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter and James and John, and leadeth them up into an
high mountain apart by themselves, and was transfigured before them.
And his garments became shining and exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller upon earth can make white.
And there appeared to them Elias with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.
And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles,
one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he knew not what he said:
for they were struck with fear. And there was a cloud overshadowing them:
and a voice came out of the cloud, saying: This is my most beloved son; hear ye him.
And immediately looking about, they saw no man any more, but Jesus only with them. -Mark 9:2-8
And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. -Matthew 17:2

Once again, a voice from Heaven speaks - "This is My beloved Son."
Once again, the Glory of God strikes fear into men's hearts.
Once again, Peter, James, and John are alone with Christ and are utterly human in His divine presence.

What did Jesus discuss with Moses and Elijah? Why did He become dazzling white? To what end did Jesus plan this vision? Why

Ah, these are the questions that we ponder, that we plumb, in meditating on this mystery of Light. One thing is certain, though:

And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken by God, saying to you: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. -Matthew 22:31-32

For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light. For the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth; Proving what is well pleasing to God: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of. But all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light; for all that is made manifest is light. Wherefore he saith: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee. -Epesians 5:8-14

Moses and Elijah are alive with Christ - what a revelation. Walking as children of the light, children in God and of God, we fall alseep then arise in the light of Christ. We are not dead, but alive. And those in Heaven and those on Earth share in the one body of Christ:

I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. -John 15:5

The vine is everything - the roots, the stalk, the branches, the leaves, the fruit. The branches are parts of the vine - but the vine is the entirety of the branches, and more. We are alive as branches of Christ - even in sleep, we arise in His light.

This theme of the vine and the branches, begun in the Proclamation of the Kingdom, foreshadowed in the Wedding at Cana, given light from the lampstand that is the mountain of the Transfiguration, is made fully manifest in the Fifth Luminous Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist.

And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst. Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man,
and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood,
hath everlasting life
: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me,
and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. -John 6:35,53-58
And whilst they were eating, Jesus took bread; and blessing, broke, and gave to them, and said: Take ye.
This is my body. And having taken the chalice, giving thanks, he gave it to them. And they all drank of it.
And he said to them: This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many. Amen I say to you,
that I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new in the kingdom of God.
-Mark 14:22-25

The light of the world. The bread of life. The God of the living. The true bread come down from Heaven. Jesus is all of these.

Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist during the Last Supper. The Last Supper was the first Mass, in which Christ Himself transformed the bread and wine into His own Body and Blood.

Just a a vine gives literal food to the branches, and the branches grow and are a part of the vine, so too Christ gives literal food to us, that we may grow in Him: "For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed."

You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16

As we consume the risen Lord, we receive nourishment from Him, as a branch is nourished from a vine. We receive Him that is light, becoming, ourselves, a light to the world. Through the "true food" and "true drink" that is Jesus, we share in His light, taking it to the world.

This is a great mystery, and a hard Truth:
Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? -John 6:60

It is a Truth so hard, in fact, that:
After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. -John 6:66

[sidenote: I find it FASCINATING that John 6:66 is the verse in which Jesus is deserted over His words on the Eucharist. Just really fascinating. Numerically symbolic? Something to read into? Maybe, maybe not. But fascinating nonetheless.]

But Jesus does not relent. Unlike John 2:21 ("But he spoke of the temple of his body."), there is no symbolism in regards to His body. There is no figuration or machination of language. There is a just a "hard saying," and many who leave, unable to stand in the light.

For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God. -John 3:16-21

We see the Eucharist (in pre-figurement, institution, or allusion) in Genesis 14:18-20,  Psalm 110:4, Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20, John 6:26-65 and 13:1 - 17:26, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, and in Hebrews 5:6,10, 6:20, and 7:1,10-21.


So there they are: the Luminous Mysteries. Together with the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious, they make up the Rosary in its entirety. From Genesis to Revelation, these 20 mysteries span the Bible, from Creation to the End, with a heavy concentration on the life of Jesus Christ.

Pray the Rosary, pray the Gospels.

The two are inextricably linked. Continue to the final installment.

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