The Luminous Mysteries
Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light”. Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom…. Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus.
– Blessed Pope John Paul II
Recited on Thursdays
The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.
The Baptism in the Jordan is first of all a mystery of light. Here, as Christ descends into the waters, the innocent one who became “sin” for our sake (cf. 2Cor 5:21), the heavens open wide and the voice of the Father declares him the beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17 and parallels), while the Spirit descends on him to invest him with the mission which he is to carry out.
- John is baptizing in the Jordan proclaiming a baptism of repentance.
- “I am the voice of one crying in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.”
- “One mightier than I is coming after me.”
- “I have baptized you with water, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
- Seeing Jesus, John exclaims: “Behold the Lamb of God.”
- After Jesus’ baptism a voice from Heaven: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
- The Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove.
- In this heavenly manifestation is instituted the sacrament of baptism.
- The divine Trinity is manifested: the voice of the Father is heard as the Spirit descends upon the Son.
- Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert for 40 days.
The Wedding of Cana
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Another mystery of light is the first of the signs, given at Cana (cf. Jn 2:1- 12), when Christ changes water into wine and opens the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mary, the first among believers.
- Jesus, His Mother and disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana.
- During the wedding feast the wine ran short.
- Mary turned to Jesus: “They have no wine.”
- Jesus replied: “What would you have me do? My hour has not yet come.”
- Mary said to the waiters: “Do whatever he tells you.”
- There were six stone water jars, each holding fifteen to twenty gallons.
- Jesus bids the waiters to fill the jars with water, and then draw some out and take it to the chief steward.
- The chief steward said to the groom: “Every man serves the good wine first… but you have saved the good wine until now.”
- At Mary’s request, Jesus worked His first miracle.
- By His presence, Christian marriage was raised to the dignity of a Sacrament.
The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:47- 48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church (cf. Jn 20:22-23).
- “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
- “My kingdom is not of this world.”
- “Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
- “Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter into it.”
- “I have come to call sinners, not the just.”
- “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.”
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.”
- “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
- “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church… I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”
The Transfiguration of Jesus
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
The mystery of light par excellence is the Transfiguration, traditionally believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor. The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the astonished Apostles to “listen to him” (cf. Lk 9:35 and parallels) and to prepare to experience with him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain to pray.
- Jesus was transfigured before them.
- “His face became as dazzling as the sun, his clothes as radiant as light.”
- This was to fortify their faith to withstand the coming tragedy of the Passion.
- Jesus foresaw the ‘scandal of the cross,’ and prepared them for it by this manifestation of His glory.
- Moses and Elias (representing the Law and the prophets of the Old Testament) were conversing with Jesus about His passion.
- “Do not think I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets… but to fulfill them.”
- From a cloud came a voice: “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”
- Jesus admonishes them not to tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man rises from the dead.
- We too will behold the transfigured Jesus on the Last Day.
The Institution of the Eucharist
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”
A final mystery of light is the institution of the Eucharist, in which Christ offers his body and blood as food under the signs of bread and wine, and testifies “to the end” his love for humanity (Jn 13:1), for whose salvation he will offer himself in sacrifice.
- I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
- Jesus took bread, blessed it: “Take and eat, this is My Body.”
- Taking the wine: “This cup is the new covenant in my Blood, shed for you.”
- At that eucharistic meal, Jesus celebrated the first Mass.
- At every Mass the sacrifice of Calvary is made present.
- At the Last Supper Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Orders to perpetuate this sacrifice.
- “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
- The Eucharist is a sacrifice inasmuch as it is offered up, and a sacrament inasmuch as it is received.
- In the Mass we offer ourselves to God, and God gives himself to us.
- The Mass will be fruitful in the measure of our surrender to the Father.