Today’s rosary meditation is the Third Joyful Mystery — The Nativity. We reflect and pray on Jesus’ humble birth in a stable. This is an important mystery to focus on, not just during the Christmas season, but throughout the year. The nature of Jesus’ birth sets the stage for how He lived His life and provides a foundation for His teachings. The Nativity provides us a clear picture on how Jesus calls us to live.
When I think of this mystery the first word that comes to my mind is “humility.” Jesus came into this world in the humblest of surroundings. Hundreds of miles away from Rome, the seat of power in this world, the true king of kings was born. He was born without money, riches, or any earthly power. He was born surrounded by peasant shepherds, not a royal court. This humble birth was no accident as it showed from the very beginning that Jesus’ ways were not the world’s ways. His mission was not one of earthly conquest and accumulation of power nor was it to bring the Jews out of the submission of the Romans. Instead, He showed us the living a humble and meek life was His way and the only path to His Heavenly kingdom.
I think Jesus’ humble birth contrasts nicely with another word usually associated with Christmas — “trappings.” The dictionary defines that word as “outward decoration or dress; ornamental equipment.” I see the trappings of Christmas all over in the amount of money spent on presents, decorations, clothes, and food. But it’s not only Christmas were we seem to put a premium on the trappings of life. Many of us tend to focus all year long on living in a nice home, driving a fancy car, and having that dream job. While none of that is bad in itself, when we start to put the comforts of this world above the rewards of the next we move away from how Jesus lived His life and how He calls us to live ours. The trappings of this life literally trap us into living only for this world which amount to absolutely nothing in Jesus’ Heavenly kingdom.
So let us pray that we have the strength to live as Jesus did — humbling and meekly. Let us pray for the strength to not put our earthly desires ahead of our Heavenly needs. In the end God will not judge us based on the cars we drive, the value of our stock portfolio, or what position we held at our jobs. Those are just the trappings of this world, the ornamental decorations, while how well you followed Jesus’ path is the real substance. Let us meditate and pray this mystery of the rosary that we can embrace Jesus’ ways as manifested in the Nativity.
Today’s rosary meditation is the second Luminous Mystery — The Miracle at the Wedding at Cana. At a wedding party, Jesus turned water into wine in His first public miracle. This started his ministry of healing the sick, giving site to the blind, and mobility to the paralyzed. There are two main threads that are common to all the Gospels and they are Jesus’ miracles and parables. Why are Jesus’ miracles so critical to his ministry? And, if He could perform all these miraculous deeds, why did He not eliminate everyone’s problems and hardships instantly? Why do we still have sick, blind, and paralyzed people today if it is so easy for the Lord to heal someone?
In order for Jesus’ miracles to have any meaning you must understand the reason behind them. They are not performed for the sole purpose of making peoples’ lives easier. We cannot reduce Jesus to a mere genie who will grant us all our wishes. They are performed in order to increase our faith and open us up to His word. When Jesus gives sight to the blind He does a lot more than just heal one person. The miraculous act is a sign of His divinity and power so that many more will come to recognize him as Christ our king and follow His path. We are like children where His miracles are a way of getting our attention so that we will be more receptive to His message. The miracles are not only for the one who is healed, but also for those who witness them so that our doubt will be transformed into unquestioning faithfulness.
However, Jesus’ asks a lot of those whom He heals. They must make a firm commitment to transform their lives, follow Him, live according to His will, and have faith that He will guide them to His heavenly kingdom. Luke’s Gospel talks of Jesus healing ten leapers. Of that ten only one came back to thank and praise Him at which point Jesus said that his faith made him well. The other nine eventually died, as we all do, so their physical healing was only temporary. But the one who returned to the Lord received more than temporary, physical healing. He received the gift of faith which is the true purpose of the miracle and more important than any physical healing we receive in this life. Ask yourself, would you return and thank Him for His wonderful works? If yes, then ask yourself how many times you have thanked our Lord for the great miracle of a new day? For the miracle of friends? For the miracle of family? Many times we are the nine healed leapers who are given so much and yet we never return to thank the one who provides it all.
Do we pray for miracles for the right reasons? Do we ask for them in order to grow in our relationship with our Lord or do we ask for them just so that our lives will be made easier? We must remember that a miracle that only makes our lives easier is worldly and temporary and will eventually fade away and be replaced by different challenges. Let us remember that God always hears us even when our request for a miracle goes unanswered. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows that many of our requests only serve to make our present lives easier and would not bring us any closer to Him. Like a good parent, He knows when to tell us “no.” Jesus did not come to us to make our lives easier in this world, but rather He came so that we may be with Him for all eternity in our next life. Let us pray this decade that Jesus’ miracles heal our soul, increase our faith, and lead us closer to His love.
Today’s rosary meditation is the first Joyful Mystery — The Annunciation. This is when the angel Gabriel told Mary, a mere teenager, that she was to be the mother of God. Now think about that for a while. What would you do if you found out that God chose you to bring His son into this world? Would you run outside rejoicing as if you just won the lottery? Would you turn pale, pass out, and then hope that it was all just a dream? Would you calmly tell the angel Gabriel that you are not ready and there are others who will be a much better choice? I do not think becoming the Mother of God is something that any of us are exactly prepared for.
But God has only asked one person in the history of the world to be the mother of Jesus Christ so that is not something He will likely ask of us. When compared to our Mother Mary, God asks so little of us in comparison to her great responsibility. For many of us, just making it to Mass on time or taking a few minutes out of our day for prayer are responsibilities where we fall short.
Why are we not prepared for the times when God asks something of us? After all, He asks something of us every day. He asks us to be faithful, to follow His laws, and put Him first in our lives. God speaks to us every day through the Pope, the Church, our priests, the Bible, saints, angels, and others to follow Him and to do His will. Do we ignore all these messengers? How many times have you not followed His will only to plead ignorance that you just did not know or that it is just too hard? When He asks, do we tell Him that we do not think we are ready and He should ask us at a more convenient time? Or do we tell Him, “YES!”, only to follow another road besides the one He lays out for us? God asks us to follow Him more times than we think and we often tell Him “no” through our words, our thoughts, or our actions.
So let us recognize that God calls on us every day to follow Him. Let us imitate our mother, Mary, and tell him “Thy will be done.” Mary put her faith in God knowing that He never gives us more than we can handle. Let us put our faith in Him that His plan for us is the best path and the only true path to eternal happiness. Mary was made pure by the Holy Spirit to carry the heavy burden of bearing the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We are strengthened by the same Holy Spirit to accept God’s will in our own lives. With the Holy Spirit, the Church, and our Mother Mary as our guides we are more than prepared to follow His path. Let us pray that when God asks us to follow Him we can confidently say, “Thy will be done.”