Anticipating Advent with the Joyful Mysteries
Author: Esperance Barretto 20 Dec 2021
With Christmas round the corner, popular Christmas songs and carols such as ‘O Come all ye faithful,’ ‘Joy to the world’ and more air on radio and television channels to get us in the festive spirit. But have you pondered on what exactly is the joy that we celebrate at Christmas?
Of course, it’s the joyful celebration of the most important birthday of all time. The fulfilment of the promise made to prophets in the Old Testament – the birth of Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. It’s the happiness that we experience as we welcome Jesus, the giver of all good things into our hearts. This joy can never be substituted for the fleeting happiness we find in material things.
As we approach the season of Advent, which commences each year on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, let’s prepare our hearts to experience this greatest gift of our Lord and Savior who is Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us.’
And what better way to anticipate his birth than by gaining inspiration from the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, which focus on the incarnation of Jesus through to his early childhood.
The Annunciation Urges Us to take God at His Word
When the angel Gabriel greeted Mary with the news that she would conceive and bear God’s son, it was great news for humanity – the hope of heaven on earth. But imagine how shocking it must have been for Mary who was engaged to Joseph at the time.
Yet, despite the turmoil she was going through, Mary obeyed and took God at his Word. In her response to the angel Gabriel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” (Luke 1:38) Mary not only welcomed the creator into her life, but into the lives of all who believe in him.
Her immaculate conception was made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we, like Mary accept God’s invitation, Jesus, His Word made flesh, dwells in us. Therefore, let’s make every effort to be rooted in Christ (Col 2:6-7) through faith, guided in his love and empowered by his Spirit. In doing so, we’ll bear much fruit this Advent and beyond.
The Visitation: An Outpouring of the Love of Christ
Ever wondered what ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength,’ (Neh 8:10) means? Look to Mary who embodied this joy upon her acceptance of the ‘good news’ of salvation. As we meditate in the second Joyful Mystery, we note that Mary’s pregnant state did not prevent her from setting out to help Elizabeth, her cousin who’d also conceived a child in her old age. Rather, Mary’s love for God overflowed into the lives of others, such that even the unborn John the Baptist leapt for joy in acknowledgement of the presence of God in Mary’s life.
Filled with the love of Christ, let’s look beyond our comfort zones this Advent, to respond to the needs of others – helping those less fortunate to experience the love of God in us and through us, through works of charity.
In Communion, In the Nativity
We meditate upon the birth of our Lord in the third Joyful Mystery of the Nativity, which is the highlight of our Christian faith. It’s that moment in time when the Creator came down from heaven to be born in a lowly manger and become like one of his creatures, yet without sin.
The Nativity of our Lord reminds us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” (Heb 12:1) emptying ourselves of the evil in us, so that we may be born again in Christ our saviour, as we abide in him.
Present Yourselves, Holy and Blameless
As was the custom amongst the Jews, Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus took him to the Temple to be presented and consecrated to God. If only they’d known then, as we know now when meditating on this fourth Joyful Mystery that they were, in effect, foreshadowing his imminent passion, death and resurrection – presenting the sinless Lamb of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, as an expiation for the sins of humanity.
The young Jesus knew that his time had not yet come. He grew up living in obedience, submitting to his earthly parents. As Saint Paul states in Phil 2:6-7, “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
We should prepare ourselves to welcome our Saviour by imitating him. “Striving to be holy just as he is,” (1 Peter 1:16) leading holy lives, in love towards God and our neighbours.
Losing Ourselves in Christ
When Jesus’ parents learnt that he was missing, their pain must have been grievous. It’s the same when we go astray, living in the world fulfilling our own earthly desires rather than the will of the Father. We hurt God, loved ones and ourselves.
We meditate in the fifth Joyful Mystery, the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. When upon finding Jesus, his parents enquired about his whereabouts, to which Jesus answered, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) Like Jesus, let’s be found focused on our heavenly father’s will and not lost in worldly matters, so that as he said,”My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (Jn15:11)
I hope that led by the Holy Spirit this Advent, we find our own unique way to welcome Jesus, the greatest gift of love into our lives. So that like Saint Paul, we can one day say with confidence, “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith,” (2 Tim 4:7).
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