The Mysteries of Light

The Baptism of Jesus by John in the River Jordan marks an end and a beginning. It is the end of what is called ‘the hidden life’ of Jesus: those thirty years, following his birth, of which, we have very little knowledge and the beginning of his ‘public life’  recorded for us in the New Testament. In the Church Liturgical Calendar, this period is termed ‘Ordinary Time.’

I cannot help thinking it is a rather tame, flat description of the period of Christ’s life during the three years of his active ministry. These  years were packed with sublime teaching, mind blowing miraculous deeds, awesome experiences and significant encounters with people and with the Jewish authorities.

I feel grateful that in recent times we have been gifted by the introduction of a further Five Mysteries of the Rosary which highlight and focuses our attention on significant events in this far from ordinary period in the Church’s year.

Perhaps now is a good time to reflect on these Luminous Mysteries that the church has selected for our contemplation. The name given, ‘The Mysteries of Light’ or ‘The Luminous Mysteries’ is significant in itself. Each of the Mysteries points to, or highlights for us in different ways, the true identity of this man: Jesus of Nazareth - true Man and true God.

 The first of ‘The Five Mysteries of Light’ is the feast we celebrate today: ‘The Baptism of Jesus.’

In contemplating this mystery we note how Jesus joined the queue, became one of the crowd of people waiting for John the Baptist, his cousin, to baptise them. We know from Mathew’s account of the occasion that when his turn came John protested and that Jesus insisted. So many questions arise for us. Did Jesus come for baptism to identify himself more closely with sinful humanity? It would appear so and it highlights for us the salutatory fact that we are all sinners in need of repentance. It recalls for us our own baptism and identity as children of God made possible through the passion death and resurrection of Jesus.

‘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 alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Mt 3:13-27

Did Jesus see the dove and hear the voice, we wonder. Where the crowds aware of anything unusual happening? Probably not but certainly John the Baptist was because this was a sign he had been promised as he recalls:

“I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” Jn1:32-34

In this first public event of Jesus’ life God, the ‘Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, is present to proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth is no ordinary man but is the Son of God. In contemplating this mystery we recall that we too when we remain faithful to our baptism call are the sons and daughters of God.

Reflection on the next four Mysteries of Life will be posted over the next few weeks. You will be reminded in the news section