As a Catholic, I pray the rosary everyday and part of it is to reflect on the Mysteries but where the Sorrowful Mysteries are sorrowful; the Glorious, glorious; and the Luminous, luminous, the Joyful are, well, a bit off.
Take the Annunciation, the greeting leaves Mary troubled. Most women would welcome news of a pregnancy but her situation was truly problematic. What would Joseph say?
The Visitation. Mary, now pregnant, goes to help Saint Elizabeth. They are filled with joy but this is not just a social visit because St. Elizabeth herself is pregnant with the future St. John the Baptist.
The Birth of Jesus! Christmas! But the King of Kings is born in a manger. And while wise men may come to visit bearing gifts, the angel had appeared to shepherds out in the field to witness the birth of the King.
The presentation at the Temple fulfills a faithful’s yearning but brings sorrow to Mary.
Finally, the finding at the Temple. Like Murphy Brown, Joseph and Mary forgot their child. Well, they assumed He was with relatives. They were already on the way home when they realized He was missing, and when they did find Him, His words were beyond them.
None of these are just straightforward happy occasions. The Visitation is the closest to just a happy-happy, joy-joy moment but not quite. So, what do I make of this?
Well, that’s the thing about Catholic happiness isn’t it? It never is a straightforward matter. It comes with accepting things we don’t understand. Surrendering ourselves to His will. It comes with serving others no matter who we are. Elizabeth is surprised why the mother of her Lord has come to visit her. It comes with humility. Some will be wise enough to find Him, while others need to be guided to Him. Faithfulness has its rewards even if it comes at a cost. It is in serving God wherever we may be. Never fearing even if others appear to have “forgotten” us.
Our joy is in the Lord. These Joyful Mysteries are about Jesus and how He works in our lives, and how we should respond to Him. Otherwise, if it were just a straightforward thing, then we might lose focus and fail to see God working in us and that would not be joyful indeed. For losing sight of the Light will eventually lead us to darkness, and that is never the plan of God for us. True joy is in Christ and Christ living in us. Our response completes that Joy. That’s the Mysteries part right there.