In the Joyful Mysteries we live again the story of Christ's coming. We rejoice before the infinite wonder of God-with-us. The hidden God, the secret of all ages, enters our human family a tiny infant, a child growing up the son of poor parents in an obscure village. To redeem us, God became one of us.
Annunciation of the Lord
In Jesus' mother heaven and earth meet in little space. The Incarnation takes place through Mary's yes to God. She lovingly surrenders her will to God. In the obedience of faith she opens her being to the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary is blessed above all women on earth. She is the true daughter of Zion through whom the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. The image of Mary standing in the loveliness of her springtime before the God of Israel is special for us. Her beautiful words to the angel messenger find echo in our hearts: Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.
Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth is often considered only on the basis of the help and comfort so generously given to the older woman. Yet the splendor of the Magnificat surely expresses the joy and gratitude Mary felt on finding that Elizabeth shared the wonderful news. Mary brought Christ to her cousin, but the radiance of his presence within her made explanations superfluous. Mary's spirit rejoiced in God our savior, and Elizabeth, still wrapped in the wonder of her own miracle, rejoiced with her. Christ within each of us is a burning presence, seeking to touch all who we meet. We like Mary can give that spirit we have received.
Love comes down at Christmas. The wonder of that holy night draws us to our needs before the rough manger where Emmanuel lies. The birth of Jesus wraps all the meaning of faith, hope, and love within our hearts. That gift opens each of us to the reality of who we are, who we are to become. In the stable darkness we, with Mary and Joseph, shepherds and angels, meet the Lord of light. As we kneel in adoration before the loving mercy of God, our lives are given into the tiny hands of the Holy Child who comes to redeem us all.
Presentation in the Temple
When the day comes, Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem; the Redeemer of the world comes to be redeemed under the Law of Israel. Our minds hold an image of a poor family waiting quietly beneath the soaring vault of the Temple. It is God's grace that opens our eyes to see, as old Simeon saw, the light of the nations, the glory of his people, sleeping in the arms of Mary. The voice of Anna begins a song of praise, and Simeon's prophecy rings in our ears. We too hear the swirl of contradictions to come: adulation then condemnation, glory and suffering, rising and fall. We too are asked to make our choice, to believe and follow our Lord.
Finding in the Temple
Twelve years later Jesus again comes with his family to Jerusalem. We can imagine the joy and excitement of this youngster as he fulfills for the first time his responsibilities as an adult Jew during the feast of Passover. Perhaps it never occurs to him to be anywhere but in his Father's house, eagerly listening to the elders speak of God. To Mary and Joseph the end of the celebrations becomes an anguished search for a lost child. They could not understand; yet Mary must have seen that her Son increasingly recognized his messianic destiny. We too keep that destiny in our hearts, and hear the young Jesus speak: I must be concerned with my Father's affairs.
They made known
the message that had been told them
about this child. All who heard it
were amazed by what had been
told them by the shepherds.
Now, Master, let your servant go in peace,
according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation.
Anna gave thanks to God
and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting
the redemption of Jerusalem.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.