Why do we meditate on the events of Christ’s life in the rosary?
Have you ever wondered about that? I mean, it’s always the same mysteries we meditate on, the same events in Christ’s life – the events of His incarnation, birth, and very early childhood; His passion; His resurrection and triumph; a small selection of His earthly ministry. What about the vast majority of His miracles and teachings? Only the luminous mysteries even touch on His ministry, even though His ministry is what actually takes up the bulk of each of the four Gospels.
Wouldn’t it be better to spend more time on His teachings? He has left us with so many commandments, directions and instructions on how to live a new life and further the Kingdom of God; how do we learn to be holy by just meditating on the events?
Actually, it’s this reversal of priorities that can reawaken us to what lies at the heart of Christianity, and to what makes it so unique.
Particularly in this day and age, we have access to the writings and teachings of many, many religions. The vast majority of all these religions have their own great moral teachers. This raises at least two questions. First – what makes one teacher better than another? But more importantly, second – how well do we listen to their teachings? If the problem could be solved with a perfect moral teaching, we would already be perfect. Clearly, that is not the case. The problem goes much deeper, and a perfect moral teaching wouldn’t be easier to follow; as C. S. Lewis notes (see Chp. 1 of Book IV in Mere Christianity), it would be the hardest of them all. No, we need more than moral teachings. We need healing.
Along, then, comes Jesus of Nazareth. We quickly realize that this moral teacher is something different: born of a virgin, born in a manger, performing great miracles and teaching with authority, speaking of God as His Father, claiming to be the very Son of God, and claiming the authority to give up His life to take away the sins of the world – and then to take it up again. He does not claim to teach a way, a truth, a life. He says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6). In a surprising turn of events in humanity’s religious history, the person is greater than the teachings.
With that, we come back to the rosary. We see this plot twist evident in the mysteries of the rosary. Instead of primarily bringing us into contact with the teachings of Christ, they take us straight to the person of Christ. And so, by entering into the events of His life, we are taken to a place of encounter with Him. It’s through this encounter that He heals and renews us by breathing into us His very life.
It’s only through the redemptive power of His life that we can even begin the journey of living out His teachings.
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