Friday, September 30, 2011

Rosary Meditations: The Third Luminous Mystery – The Proclamation of the Kingdom and the Call to Conversion

Scripture References

Matthew 4:12-22; Matthew 5-7; Matthew 9:9-13; Matthew 13:1-50; Matthew 16:24-28; Matthew 18:1-5; Matthew 18:10-14; Matthew 18:23-35; Matthew 19:13-15; Matthew 20:1-16; Matthew 22:1-14; Mark 1:14-20; Mark 2:13-17; Mark 4:1-32; Mark 8:34-9:1; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 5:1-11; Luke 5:27-32; Luke 6:20-49; Luke 7:36-50; Luke 8:4-15; Luke 9:23-27; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 12:22-34; Luke 15:1-31; Luke 18:15-17; Luke 19:1-10; John 1:35-51; John 4:1-42; Acts 2:14-42; Acts 9:1-19

The Story in Brief

Unlike many other Rosary mysteries, the Proclamation of the Kingdom and the Call to Conversion was not a single event in the lives of Jesus and Mary. Instead, it was, and is, an ongoing process that began with Jesus' announcement early in His public ministry that the kingdom of God was at hand. It extended through the call of the disciples and the conversion of people like Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, and the sinful woman who cried on Jesus' feet. It continued in Peter's preaching after the Resurrection and in Paul's conversion. Finally, it touches all of us today as we make our own conversion journeys into the kingdom of God.

Points to Ponder

1. This is a mystery that invites us to pray the Bible. Open to one of the Scripture references listed above, read it carefully, and meditate on what it tells us about the kingdom of God and the call to conversion.

2. Reflect on Jesus' announcement that the kingdom of God is at hand (see Matthew 4:12-17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:16-30). Think about how Jesus is introduced as a great light; the focus on repentance; how the kingdom has come near; Jesus Himself as the kingdom; the fullness of time; the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy as described in Luke; the characteristics of the kingdom as presented in Luke; the persecution of Jesus as described in Luke; the coming of the kingdom to the Gentiles; and how Jesus passed through the midst of the crowd and went away.

3. Ponder the call of the first disciples (see Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11; John 1:35-51). Consider how the disciples were called to fish for people; how they immediately left their nets and their families and followed Jesus; the strength of the call; the disciples' total surrender; the miraculous catch in Luke; Peter's obedience, astonishment, and fear in response to the miraculous catch; God's lavishness; Jesus' control and power; the disciples' staying with Jesus as described in John; the disciples' realizing they had found the Messiah on the testimony of John the Baptist; Jesus' calling Simon “Peter”; Nathanael's doubt and confession; and Jesus' prediction that the disciples would see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

4. Think about the conversion of Matthew (see Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32). Reflect on how Jesus converted Matthew with only two simple words, “Follow Me”; the nonverbal communication between Jesus and Matthew; what it meant that Matthew was a tax collector; Matthew's total surrender to Jesus; how Matthew left everything to become a disciple; Matthew's party and missionary efforts; Jesus' role as a physician; Jesus' desire for mercy, not sacrifice; Jesus' breaking all the rules by eating with the “unclean”; how the Pharisees directed their question at the disciples, not at Jesus; and the call to repentance.

5. Read and ponder the sermon on the mount (see Matthew 5-7). This sermon might be considered the workshop of conversion. Meditate on each of the beatitudes; on being salt and light; on anger; on loving your enemies; on the Lord's prayer; on almsgiving, fasting, and praying in secret; on the inner room (the heart); on your real treasure; on worrying; on judging; on asking, seeking, and knocking; on trust; on the golden rule; on the narrow gate; and on the house on the rock.

6. Think about the sermon on the plain (see Luke 6:20-49). Here is another workshop of conversion. Ponder the blessings and woes; loving your enemies; being merciful as the Father is merciful; not judging; generosity; knowing the tree by its fruits; and house on the rock.

7. Reflect on parables about the kingdom, which contain both lessons of the kingdom and stories of conversion. Ponder the parable of the sower; the parable of the weeds among the wheat; the parable of the hidden treasure; the parable of the net in the sea; the parable of the fine pearl; the parable of the lost sheep; the parable of the unforgiving servant; the parable of the laborers in the vineyard; the parable of the wedding banquet; the parable of the mustard seed; the parable of the growing seed; the parable of the good Samaritan; the parable of the lost coin; and the parable of the prodigal son.

8. Think carefully about how Jesus blesses the little children (see Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17). Ponder what it really means to be like a little child, and meditate on the trust and innocence of little children.

9. Ponder Jesus' command to deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Him (see Matthew 16:24-28; Luke 9:23-27). This is the work of conversion. Reflect on how in losing your life for Jesus' sake you actually find true life.

10. Consider the story of the sinful woman (see Luke 7:36-50). Here is a story of conversion. Think about the woman's repentance and the physical manifestation of that repentance; Jesus' teaching about the relationship between forgiveness and love; the comparison of the woman with Simon the Pharisee; the parable of the two forgiven debtors; and how Jesus, in His divinity, forgives sins.

11. Ponder the conversion story of Zacchaeus (see Luke 19:1-10). Reflect on how Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector, very rich, and therefore, probably a crook; how tax collectors were the lowest of the low among the Jews; and how Zacchaeus was so drawn to Jesus that he risked looking like a fool and climbed a tree to see Him. Think also about how Jesus invited Himself to stay at Zacchaeus' house and about Zacchaeus' response of repentance and satisfaction for his sins. Consider how Jesus' mission was fulfilled in Zacchaeus.

12. Reflect on the story of the Samaritan woman (see John 4:1-42). Meditate on the gradual conversion of the woman, who seemed to be the most unlikely person to follow Jesus; Jesus' frank but non-accusatory attitude towards the woman's sins; living water; worship in spirit and truth; Jesus' revelation of Himself as the Messiah; how the woman became an evangelist, drawing others to Jesus; and the conversion and testimony of the Samaritans.

13. Consider Peter's preaching of the kingdom (see Acts 2:14-42). Reflect on the fulfillment of prophecies; the proclamation of Jesus, the Messiah; the conversion of three thousand; and the life of the first Christian community.

14. Ponder Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1-19). Think about how Paul's physical blindness manifested his former spiritual blindness; Jesus' identification with the Church (to persecute the Church was to persecute Jesus); fasting and prayer as part of conversion; Ananias' vision; how Ananias laid hands on Paul; how people assist one another along the path of conversion; Jesus' desire to use Paul as His instrument; how Paul became filled with the Spirit; how something like scales fell from Paul's eyes; and the Eucharistic overtones involved in Paul's taking food to regain his strength.

Application Questions

1. What is your conversion story?

2. How are you converting to God each and every day?

3. In which areas of your life do you still need to convert?

4. How do you experience the kingdom of God?

5. How has God called you in the past? How is He calling you now? How do you respond?

6. What do you have to leave behind in your life to follow Jesus?

7. In what ways do you need healing from Jesus?

8. Of what sins must you repent?

9. How might you apply the teachings of the sermon on the mount and the sermon on the plain to your own life?

10. How might you apply each of the parables to your own life?

11. In what ways do you need to become like a little child?

12. Do you take up your cross and follow Jesus each day? In what ways? What is your attitude toward the cross and towards trials in your life?

13. Do you trust that Jesus will forgive your sins when you repent?

14. How do you respond to Jesus' love and mercy?

15. Are you willing to look like a fool to follow Jesus?

16. How do you draw others to Jesus?

17. Are you at all spiritually blind? In what ways? Do you trust in Jesus to open your eyes?

18. How are you doing at prayer and fasting?

19. How do other people help you in your conversion? How do you help others?

Prayer, Prayer, and More Prayer

Blessing and adoration – God, we bow our heads in silent adoration as we contemplate the kingdom You have established that we may enter into an intimate relationship with You. We bless You, dearest Lord, and we worship You.

Praise – Jesus, Your teaching is amazing! You speak to us in ways that we can understand, through parables, through beatitudes, and through Your actions. We praise You for bringing the kingdom to us and inviting us to enter into it to be with You forever.

Thanksgiving – Thank You, dearest Jesus, for inviting us to a life of conversion and for allowing us to experience Your kingdom. Thank You for healing us, for teaching us, for showing us the way to You, and for gently guiding us along the way. We love You, Jesus.

Intercession – Jesus, we lift up to You all people who are following the path of conversion and seeking You kingdom. We lift up those who are currently leading a sinful life and pray that they may hear Your call in their hearts and turn away from their sins to follow You.

Petition – Lord, please guide all of us along our daily journey of conversion. Please bring us all safely into Your kingdom that we may live with You now and always. Please help us to not only hear Your teachings but to really understand them and follow them. Please give us the grace to repent of our sins and turn to You for forgiveness and eternal life.

Quotes from the Saints

“Repent, therefore, and believe; that is, renounce dead works; for of what use is believing without good works? The merit of good works does not, however, bring to faith, but faith begins, that good works may follow.” - St. Bede

“He chose not kings, senators, philosophers, or orators, but he chose common, poor, and untaught fishermen. Had one learned been chose, he might have attributed the choice to the merit of his learning. But our Lord Jesus Christ, willing to bow the necks of the proud, sought not to gain fishermen by orators, but gained an Emperor by a fisherman. Great was Cyprian the pleader, but Peter the fisherman was before him.” - St. Augustine

“Peter and Andrew had seen Christ work no miracle, had heard from Him no word of the promise of eternal reward, yet at this single bidding of the Lord they forgot all that they had seemed to possess, and straightway left their nets, and followed Him. In which deed we ought rather to consider their wills than the amount of their property. He leaves much who keeps nothing for himself, he parts with much, who with his possessions renounces his lusts. Those who followed Christ gave up enough to be coveted by those who did not follow. Our outward goods, however small, are enough for the Lord; he does not weigh the sacrifice by how much is offered but out of how much it is offered. The kingdom of God is not to be valued at a certain price, but whatever a man has, much or little, is equally available.” - St. Gregory the Great

“Why is it then that nothing is said of the rest of the Apostles how or when they were called, but only of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew? Because these were in the most alien and lowly stations, for nothing can he more disreputable than the office of Publican, nothing more abject than that of fisherman.” -St. John Chrysostom

“Now our Lord while He ever raises us to look to the future reward of virtue, and teaches us how good it is to despise worldly things, so also He supports the weakness of the human mind by a present recompense. For it is a hard thing to take up the cross, and expose your life to danger and your body to death; to give up what you are, when you wish to be what you are not; and even the loftiest virtue seldom exchanges things present for future. The good Master then, lest any man should be broken down by despair or weariness, straightway promises that He will be seen by the faithful, in these words, But I say to you, There are some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God.” - St. Ambrose

“There are in truth three states of the converted: the beginning, the middle, and the perfection. In the beginning they experience the charms of sweetness; in the middle the contests of temptation; and in the end the fullness of perfection.” - St. Gregory the Great

“First let a little love find entrance into their hearts, and the rest will follow.” - St. Philip Neri

“Christ acts like a loving mother. To induce us to follow Him, He gives us Himself as an example and promises us a reward in His kingdom.” - St. Anthony of Padua

For more saints quotes, consult the Catena Aurea for each Gospel text mentioned.

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