As the month of September commences, what comes immediately to my mind is Christmas: the “ber-months” have come. The other day, we explained it to our residence director: in the Philippines, we celebrate the longest Christmas in the world. Part of being a Filipino is that joyful character. We cling more to what gives us joy than to what makes us sulky. And in case we lose our joys for some disgrace, we immediately try to recuperate them. Christmas is our most loved season of the year because it helps us recuperate that which we price most – our joyful moments.
But Christmas is fundamentally Jesus’ joyful moments on earth. Jesus finds joy in becoming a man like us in everything except sin, in obeying completely His earthly parents – Mary and Joseph, and in working silently in Nazareth. These are some of Jesus’ happy moments that we meditate in praying the Joyful mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
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FIRST JOYFUL MYSTERY: The Annunciation and the Incarnation of Jesus. I personally prefer to call this the Mystery of Incarnation rather than of the Annunciation, although the latter is prior to the former. When the Archangel Gabriel declared to Mary that she shall conceive a child whom she shall name “Jesus”, it was in a sense, not just an act of informing Mary, but of asking her consent. Mary’s “Yes” was a requisite for the Incarnation to take place. It is as if God was waiting for Mary to give her consent before the Second Divine Person could become man.
Meditating on this mystery, we see a God Who takes pleasure in dealing with humankind, a God Who is very close to man, a God Who is concerned with everything that concerns man. We see a God Who considers first – Who patiently waits first for – a woman’s consent before embarking on the implementation of His greatest plan for mankind: the salvation of man. He is a God Who consults us first before implementing His great plans for us. Before saving us, He wants our opinion or our consent first. St. Augustine is right: “God, who created you without your consent, cannot save you without your consent”.
In our life’s great plans, do we also consult God and ask His opinion or consent? In God’s eternal plan, you have a big role to play, a wide space reserved for you. But does God also have a place in your life’s projects?
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SECOND JOYFUL MYSTERY: Mary’s Visitation to Her cousin Elizabeth. We see in this mystery two persons whose life projects are centered on God. In their life, God does not only occupy a considerable space or a bigger role: God is the center of everything. Elizabeth told Mary: “Blessed are you because you believed that what God has told you will come true”. Here is a little secret of happiness: believing that God will take care of us!
But how many unnecessary worries in life lead us to depression? And why do we worry so much? We worry because things don’t turn the way we want them to. We are so filled with worries because we wanted absolute control of our lives. And we realize that it is simply impossible. Of course, the existentialists have a point in saying that man should decide for himself to be what he wants to be. This is also God’s will for man. But man can only achieve this with God’s help, for as the Vatican II teaches: “Without the Creator, the creature would vanish”.
Do you really believe that without God you can achieve the objectives you have set with your life’s projects, with your business, with your lovelife, with your studies, etc.? If you want success in life, do your best and let God take care of the rest!
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THIRD JOYFUL MYSTERY: The Birth of Jesus. It is already marvelous to contemplate an eternal God Who has entered into time – a divine who become human. But it is more marvelous to meditate what is temporal and what is human rise to eternity and the divine. In Christ’s birth, we marvel not only on God’s entering into our world but also on us entering into God’s life.
Hence, though it is right to say “Accept Jesus in your life as your personal Lord and Savior” (as some protestants usually preach), I’d say, “Let yourself be embraced by Jesus and be received into His life”. Do not put obstacles for God’s grace to work in your life. Do not make it difficult for God to befriend you.
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FOURTH JOYFUL MYSTERY: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple and the Purification of Mary. Mary’s purification is usually left unrecognized in the praying of this mystery especially when the leader (or oneself) mentions only the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. But it calls our attention why Mary must undergo purification being immaculate herself, that is, conceived without sin. It is because according to Jewish law, the blood that flows from the woman in giving birth makes her impure.
But we, Catholics, hold that Mary is Virgin before, during and after giving birth to Jesus. Hence, the purification rite is unnecessary. Yet, Mary decided to fulfill what the law commands in order to teach us a very important lesson today: the purity of life must be lived inside and outside, interiorly and exteriorly. How sure are you that you really and interiorly are struggling to live a chaste life if in your conversations green jokes are as natural and as spontaneous as breathing?
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FIFTH JOYFUL MYSTERY: The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Lost and found seems to be no mystery at all, especially in a society where sections on “Lost and Found things” abound in department stores. But what is mysterious in this episode of Jesus’ life is the pain and worry that Mary and Joseph experienced for three days of looking for their beloved son. It’s natural, you may say. After all, Jesus is their son. True. But they also know, not only believe, that Jesus is their God. And yet, their faith could not keep away their pain and worry.
Spiritual pain and worry should also engulf us whenever we find out that we have lost our God by committing a mortal sin. But it seems that this does not spiritually affect too much a lot of people today: that whenever we commit a mortal sin, we lose God’s grace – we lose Jesus, we lose our joy. And like any good Filipino, the only way to recuperate our joy is to go to the “Lost and Found” section: the Sacrament of Confession.