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'The Door of the Church'

The First Luminous Mystery: The Baptism of Jesus

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By Dan Valenti (Oct 24, 2014)
Sixth of a 20-part series on the Mysteries of the Rosary. Next week: The Wedding at Cana.

Pope John Paul II introduced the Luminous Mysteries to the Rosary in his Apostolic Letter in October 2002. The mysteries highlight Jesus' public ministry, filling in the events of the Savior's life in the years from His Baptism to His institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday.

The First Luminous Mystery, the Baptism of Jesus, is derived from the Gospel accounts of Matthew (Mt 3:13-17), Mark (Mk 1:9-11), and Luke (Lk 3:21-22). In this mystery, Jesus travels from Galilee to the River Jordan, where His cousin John is baptizing people and calling for repentance. When Jesus presents Himself to John, His cousin protests, saying that he (John) needs to be baptized by Him. Jesus says His Baptism is the fulfillment of God's will, and John consents.

As soon as the Baptism of Jesus takes place, a wondrous thing happens. Heaven opens up, and from it, the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a Dove. The Dove lands on Jesus, and a loud voice is heard: "This is My Son, whom I love. With Him I am well pleased" (Mt 3:13-17).

"Luminous means light, and it is fitting that the Baptism of the Lord is the first Luminous Mystery," says Fr. Angelo Casimiro, MIC, a Marian priest serving at the Marian House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio. "John the Baptist struggled with something that may at first seem puzzling to us. The Church teaches that Baptism is needed for the remission of original sin, but Jesus was without sin. He didn't need to be baptized, but He submits Himself to John at the Jordan River. Why? He does this as an example to all of us."

By Tradition, the Church Fathers viewed John's Baptism of Jesus as Christ's institution of the Sacrament. It is the first Sacrament, and it has been called "the door to the Church," for upon its reception, a person is admitted into the Church.

Father Angelo also points out the importance of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in this mystery.

"The Father tells us He is pleased with Jesus," says Fr. Angelo. "The Holy Spirit then completes the sacramental moment by alighting on Jesus. These two actions validate the Baptism. Jesus, through His Baptism, blesses the waters of the Sacrament for the rest of us."

The First Luminous Mystery, Fr. Angelo says, gives us the confidence of a life secure in the love of God. "Baptism makes us not sinners but 'repentant' sinners." The adjective makes all the difference.

Joyful Mysteries
1. The Annunciation
2. The Visitation
3. The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus
4. The Presentation in the Temple
5. The Finding in the Temple

Luminous Mysteries
1. The Baptism of Jesus
2. The Wedding at Cana
3. The Proclamation of the Gospel
4. The Transfiguration
5. The Institution of the Eucharist

Sorrowful Mysteries
1. The Agony in the Garden
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
3. The Crowning with Thorns
4. The Carrying of the Cross
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus

Glorious Mysteries
1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption
5. The Coronation

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