The Joyful Mysteries
Tuesday 12th May 2020
First Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation
‘In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin...and the Virgin’s name was Mary…The angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus… ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.’
We all know the importance of a good solid foundation. It is key to building up the rest of the structure. Without a firm foundation everything is fragile and risks collapse. Jesus himself taught this lesson very clearly.
‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house and it did not fall: it was founded on rock.’ (Mt 7:24-25)
The foundation of our lives cannot rest on the fleeting and perishable world around us. I think during the current pandemic this truth has been very much realised. To simply ‘go with the flow’, to accept worldly values and principles ranging from sexuality, gender, marriage and human perceived justice and truth, distorts the way to Jesus who wants to bring us to the very heart of God the Father in heaven. The foundation to our life must be Christ the Lord. To build upon him, to make him our keystone, will never be misguided or a wrong decision.
It will be difficult at times and challenging, admittedly, and he even said himself, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross...’ (Mk 8:34) The cross can be heavy and by being associated with it will lead people to reject and denounce us. However, by building our lives on the Lord and his ways, his teachings, his truth will bring joy and ultimately lead us to heaven; despite the obstacles and rebukes it will provoke along the way by the world around us.
‘Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?’’ (Mt 21:42)
The rejection of Jesus led from his passion and death to ultimately his Resurrection! New life! Eternal life! True and real life with God in paradise forever! He is the foundation stone that is truly worth building on.
What has all this to do with the first Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation? Well to make the Lord the foundation on which we build our lives we first must know him. This is the example Our Blessed Mother shows us in this mystery that we are called to meditate upon today. The term to ‘know’ in the Bible means a lot more than just acknowledging the existence and presence of another. To ‘know’ in the Scriptures points to an intimate relationship where there is a genuine and deep understanding about another. When Mary said ‘Yes’ to God at the Annunciation it was not a whim, a sudden inspired moment but something that had been nurtured and pondered about over time with God’s grace. Look at the paintings below and can you notice something that is constant in all of them?
The book! In nearly all artistic depictions of the Annunciation, including our carving on the reredos of the High Altar at St. Mary’s, Mary is either holding a book or there is one positioned close to where she is sitting or kneeling. The book of course is the Sacred Scriptures, the Old Testament. On those divinely inspired pages God reaches out to allow us to experience Him and therefore grow in faith. The words speak of God’s saving deeds for His people, his passionate love for His own. The words sing His praise for the many wonders He has done and the kindness and mercy which flow from Him. The words direct and guide so that we may walk in His light and get to know who He truly is.
Mary, as a Jew, as a daughter of Israel knew those words from the moment, she took her first breath. They were the words used at home in prayer. The words chanted at the Temple in worship. The words pondered and discussed each and every day by those around her. She would have seen in the Scriptures how God reached out to His unfaithful people. How He raised up holy men and women at different stages in history to bring them back to Himself with all their hearts. She would have been very familiar with the hope of the coming Messiah, God’s anointed and chosen Saviour. Our Lady lived, breathed, pondered, contemplated and mediated on the Sacred Scriptures. When she was asked to be the Mother of God her ‘Yes’ came naturally and trustingly because she ‘knew’ the God who called her from experiencing Him in those sacred words of Scripture.
Do we truly ‘know’ God? How often have we seriously picked up our Bible to pray? Do we have a Bible and if so where is it? On the book shelf next to the novels, DIY guides and gardening books? Is it a big fancy posh Bible kept in a draw or cupboard that never sees the light of day? Our Lady shows us the importance of praying with the word of God because it allows us to get to ‘know ‘Him. God’s word helps us build our lives the right way on the true foundation stone. St. Jerome famously said, ‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.’ Let’s trust in Mary and the example she gives us and pick up the Word of God and be amazed in the ways that God will speak to us.
First Single Bead: Our Father
Let us pray during this mystery that we too come to ‘know’ the true God. Let us pray that we will say ‘Yes’, completely and totally, when He calls us in the extraordinary moments of life and the very ordinary mundane moments of life. Let us ask Mary to be with us as we read our Bible’s and encounter the God of life speaking to us.
Ten Beads: Hail Mary for each one
Contemplate Mary and the Book, the Sacred Scriptures. See her thirst and desire for God, for true life, being quenched at the wellspring of every page. Pray that we as a parish family my yearn and long for that same Life, that same Way, that same Truth that same Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God who is the only one who makes life make any sense.
Single Bead: Glory be
At the end of a decade we always praise the Holy Trinity with a Glory Be as well as another prayer known as the Fatima prayer. It was taught by Our Lady to the three children at Fatima (St. Francisco, St. Jacinta & Sister Lucia) on the 13th June 1917. Our Lady asked that it be prayed at the end of every decade of the Rosary.
O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.
It is a prayer that reminds us that the only sure and concrete person in our life is Jesus. He stands with us through thick and thin and it is only he who can forgive and save us. The Fatima prayer also reminds us to pray for others out of love.
‘The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.’ (Ps 117:22)
Tomorrow we will meditate on the second Joyful Mystery, The Visitation.
God Bless and keep praying