Friday, December 01, 2006

The Joyful Mysteries

Almost thought I forgot, dinn'tcha? Or weren't you even keeping track? Well, I did almost forget.

  1. The Annunciation

    Mary can be seen as analogous to the Jews as a whole. They were chosen by God to be the ones through whom the Savior would be brought to the world, a societal tabernacle as well as possessing the gold and wood one. Then Mary was the tabernacle of flesh, the apotheosis of the tabernacles of flesh that we all are before the end of Mass.

  2. The Visitation

    I often wonder how much Elizabeth knew or suspected about her child or the child of her cousin. Zechariah no doubt wrote down everything Gabriel said for Elizabeth to consider, but imagine what she was thinking when she wanted to tell Mary the great news of finally having a son, one destined for great things, only to find that Gabriel had meanwhile told Mary of the great son she too would have. From her exclamation when John leapt in her womb, she must have known something great was afoot. What did they talk about during their three months together? Did they realize that the culmination of salvation history was actually upon them?

  3. The Birth of Jesus

    This mystery is bittersweet. Truly, the Incarnation, in sanctifying creation by God's entering it, is something monumental, and like the other third mysteries is a fulcrum, in this case the locus of the history of salvation. It is said later in the Gospel that Jesus was unwelcome in his home town. Jesus, in some ways, faced that fact right since the Nativity. Joseph and Mary could find no lodging, so they had to stay with the animals. When the magi came, one of the gifts was myrrh--not a sign that he had no place in the world, but a foreshadowing of death, a sign of how life in this world is transient. Soon the holy family would have to hide out in Egypt for a spell. In time Jesus would reveal that we who are in Him also shouldn't be thinking of this world as home.

  4. The Presentation

    This one also has a sad tinge to its joyfulness. The presentation itself, and Simeon's affirmation of the Christ upon seeing him? Great. Simeon's prophecy, that a sword will pierce her heart? Sad. Did Mary have any idea of what sorrows were in store yet? Prophets were usually called when God wanted them to begin speaking for Him; what was God doing coming to the mother of someone destined to be great (or in the case of Zechariah, the father)?

    ...but suffering is redemptive, and Mary was united to Christ in sorrow and joy from the beginning.

  5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

    I like to think of this one in part as a reminder of the Eucharist. Look for Jesus: sure, you'll find Him amongst us, we who live in Him, but don't be surprised to find Him physically in the House of God, also. If it weren't for the Real Presence, He would not be there in any meaningfully different way than He is in the hearts of the faithful or in the Scripture.

    This mystery, like the others, is more complex than simple joy or sorrow. Jesus would not have been the kind of boy who got into trouble, so not seeing him for a while in a caravan probably filled with family and friends would itself not have been a great cause for worry. Finding that none in the caravan had seen him, and searching for Jesus for three days in the holy city, on the other hand, would have been. Where did they find him? In His Father's house, conversing with and impressing the teachers. While Luke tells us Mary and Joseph didn't understand why Jesus had to be there--Where was He even staying at night? Did the rabbis or scribes not think to ask after his parents?--they would have understood how a man leaves his parents to fulfill his own vocation, and in time they should have come to know the emptiness parents feel when their child strikes out on his own, and the pride in seeing the child now as a man.

    In the end, Luke gives us a sign that, like the wedding at Cana, prayers to Mary can be effective, for Jesus will give her what she asks of Him: When they find Jesus in the temple, they bring him home rather than leaving him to his Father's business, and (Luke 2:51) "He was subject to them."


causa nostra laetitiae said...

Nice commentary on my favorite mysteries of the rosary.

Ed Pie said...

Thank you! I hope to get to all of them in the near future.