so Joyful about the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary? Learning how to Count
it All Joy
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of
various kinds (James 1:2, ESV)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to always be joyful! Imagine
waking up joyful and going to sleep joyful every day. Like a super hero, we
would be filled with energy and ready to tackle whatever life throws our way.
Perhaps that’s why praying the Joyful Mysteries is so encouraging. For us they
resound with the hope of a new beginning, of God’s plan for our salvation, of
Jesus arrival making all things new.
But if you ever thought about the Joyful Mysteries
from a purely practical perspective, you might have wondered, what’s so joyful
about the Joyful Mysteries? From an earthly perspective, they may seem anything
but joyful. Our Lady however, found joy in God’s will and plans, despite the
circumstances. Because of this attitude, she cooperated with God to achieve His
wonderful plans. Interestingly, the events in two of the Joyful Mysteries are
also among the Swords of Sorrow in the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary: The
Prophecy of Simeon, and The Loss of Jesus in the Temple. What a grand opportunity the Joyful Mysteries
give us then, to learn from her how to find the joy in our own difficult life’s
circumstances from a heavenly perspective.
God so loved the world
The Annunciation, when Archangel
Gabriel told Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus, might seem devastating
from a human perspective. The prospect of a child out of wedlock, a broken
engagement, the condemnation by society, would not seem at all joyful. But Our
Blessed Mother found joy in doing God’s will and her loving response was“Behold,
I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word”
(Luke 1: 38, ESV).
Her response opened the door for the BIG picture to
unfold; the plan from God’s perspective. It set in motion our loving Father’s
wonderful plan to save His children. “For God so loved the
world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should
not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
A joyful song and dance
The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, from
an earthly perspective, could have been seen as difficult and inconvenient. A
long trek up hills by a pregnant woman who has her own serious matters to worry
about would not normally end in singing and dancing under normal circumstances;
rather some tears and hanging of the head might be the result. But Our Blessed
Mother found joy in charity, so she was able to get outside her own troubles
and focus on her cousin.
The result is amazingly joyful—the baby John, dancing
for joy in his mother’s womb at this first meeting with Jesus, also in His
mother’s womb; Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, raising a shout of
praise to Jesus and blessing His mother; and Our Lady, so full of the joy of
God; worshipping Him spontaneously in the Magnificat.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the
humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will
call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for
me, and holy is his name…” (Luke 1: 47-49, ESV).
Unto Us a Child is Born
The Nativity of our Lord,
from an earthly perspective, might not have seemed so joyful. A long trip on a
donkey for a woman in the ninth month of her pregnancy; arriving at the
destination exhausted, to find all the rooms full; giving birth in a cowshed,
with no cot or crib for the baby, no bed for the new mom to rest; all hell
breaking loose as baby boys are targetted for death, forcing the young family
to flee the country and become refugees. However, Our Blessed Mother had great
joy in her love for Jesus, and great trust in God, which was greater than these
Today, there is no doubt about the joy of Christmas,
which is the most celebrated holiday in the world. Christmas is a joyful time,
even for non-believers. The world recognizes that something astounding happened
for humanity on this day. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is
given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name
shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is.9:6, ESV).Our Blessed
Mother’s love and trust in God enabled her to partake in the incarnation. From the heavenly perspective, the birth
of Jesus our Saviour is so joyful it overshadows any earthly circumstances.
The Safest Hands
The Presentation of our Lord, from
an earthly perspective, going to church just eight days after delivering a baby
might seem burdensome. Parents might be concerned about the safety of strangers
holding their eight-day-old infant, exposing them to all kinds of germs.
Compound this with the prophecy that Mary received from Simeon, that something
would happen to her child that would feel like a sword piercing the mother’s
Perhaps Our Blessed Mother had tears in her eyes
thinking about this, but despite that sorrow, she found joy in presenting her
child to God for His great and good purpose. From a heavenly perspective, no
matter what happens, we and our loved ones are safest in God’s hands. “And
we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us]
causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God,
to those who are called according to His plan and purpose” (Romans
A Joyful Reunion
The Finding of the boy Jesus in the Temple,
from a human perspective, is a daunting experience. Imagine losing your
pre-teen for three days in a city far from home. When you finally find him,
he’s quite fine and actually enjoying himself. You ask him what he was
thinking, and he essentially asks you, “what’s the big deal?” But Mary found
joy in being reunited with her son.
We know how painful it is when we think we have lost
Jesus by going away fro Him through some sin or other. From a heavenly
perspective then, being reunited with Jesus is the greatest joy. After
repenting and making a good confession, we may even feel like we are floating
in the air. How joyful to find Jesus again! And how wonderful to know that in
the Sacrament of Reconciliation, He is waiting for us.
Joyful Mysteries in Difficult Times
There are circumstances in our lives that, seen from
our human perspective, can only qualify as sorrowful occurrences. Perhaps the
years go by and we fail to find a life partner and we fear it’s too late now.
Or having married, no children are forthcoming and time is no longer on our
side. Perhaps a child is born with special needs that seem daunting. Or death
comes calling far too early, taking a parent or child or a much loved spouse.
Jesus reassures us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in
me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take
heart! I have overcome the world.”
The Joyful Mysteries are most relevant in the midst of
the difficulties and sorrows we face. They give us the heavenly perspective we
need so much. They are the perfect reminder that joy does not come from the
circumstances of our lives, but in spite of them, when we trustingly cooperate
with Him in the fulfillment of His good and perfect plans. May God grant us the
grace we need to trust in His plan, just as Our Blessed Mother did.