Skip to comments.[CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX CAUCUS] 1st Luminous Mystery: Baptism of Jesus by John (Patristic Rosary)
Posted on 10/06/2010 10:36:59 AM PDT by markomalley
We continue our Patristic Rosary Project today with the:
1st Luminous Mystery: Baptism of Jesus by John
The one God had sent to prepare the way and whom Christ Himself would describe as the greatest man born of woman, was a focus of much contemplation by the Fathers and we can only touch the surface of their comments. Chromatius (+c.406), Bishop of Aquileia, wrote of the Baptist and his significance for us:
Hence John prepared these ways of mercy and truth, faith and justice. Concerning them, Jeremiah also declared, "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it. (Jer 6:16) Because the heavenly kingdom is found along these ways, not without good reason John adds, "The kingdom of heaven is near." (Mt 3:2) So do you want the kingdom of heaven to also be near for you? Prepare these ways in your heart, in your senses and in your soul. Pave within you the way of chastity, the way of faith and the way of holiness. Build roads of justice. Remove every scandal of offense from your heart. For it is written: "Remove the stones from the road." (Is 40:4) And then, indeed, through the thoughts of your heart and the very movement of your soul, Christ the King will enter along certain paths. [Tractate on Matthew 8.1]
Why Christ submitted to baptism was a puzzle to the Fathers. Christ, who had no need of baptism, received baptism by water. Hilary of Poitiers (+367) spoke about Christs effect on the water, rather than its effect on Him:
In Jesus Christ we behold a complete man. Thus in obedience to the Holy Spirit the body he assumed fulfilled in him every sacrament of our salvation. He came therefore to John, born of a woman (Cf. Gal 4:4), bound to the law and made flesh through the Word. (Cf. Jn 1:14) Therefore there was no need for him to be baptized, because it was said of him: "He committed no sin." (1 Pet 2:22) and where there is no sin, the remission of it is superfluous. It was not because Christ had a need that he took a body and a name from our creation. He had no need for baptism. Rather, through Him the cleansing act was sanctified to become the waters of our immersion. [On Matthew 2.5]
Jerome (+420) also comments on this mystery:
For three reasons the Savior accepted baptism from John. First, because He was born a man, that He might fulfill all justice and humility of the Law. Second, that by His baptism He might confirm Johns baptism. And third, that by sanctifying the waters of the Jordan through the descent of the dove, he might show the Holy Spirits advent in the baptism of believers. [Commentary on Matthew 1.3.13]
One of the remarkable things occurring at the baptism of Jesus is the sound of the Voice. Here is Hilary again:
A voice from heaven thus spoke: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Mt 3:17) Gods Son is manifested both by hearing and by sight. Both the witnesses of contemplation and the spoken word are sent from the Lord to an unfaithful people who disregard the prophets. At the same time, we know from those who were immersed in Christ that after baptism with water the Holy Spirit would descend to us from the heavenly gates. Then we would be filled with the anointing of heavenly glory and become Gods children through the adoption the Fathers voice announced. Truth prefigures the image of the sacrament through these very happenings. [On Matthew 2.6]
The great bishop of Hippo, the Doctor of Grace, St. Augustine (+430) spoke about the Trinitarian dimension of this mystery:
Here then we have the Trinity presented in a clear way: the Father in the voice, the Son in the man, the Holy Spirit in the dove. This only needs to be barely mentioned, for it is so obvious for anyone to see. Here the recognition of the trinity is conveyed to us so plainly that it hardly leaves any room for doubt or hesitation. The Lord Christ Himself, who comes in the form of a servant to John, is undoubtedly the Son, for here no one can mistake Him for either the Father or the Holy Spirit. It is the Son who comes. And who could have any doubt about the identity of the dove? The Gospel itself most plainly testifies: "The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form or a dove." So also there can be no doubt whose voice it is who speaks so personally: "You are my beloved Son." So we have the Trinity distinguished . Here are the three Persons of the Trinity distinguished: When Jesus came to the river, He came from one place to another. The dove descended form heaven to earth, from one place to another. The very voice of the Father sounded neither from the earth nor from the water but from heaven. These three are as it were distinguished in places, in offices and in works. But one may say to me, "Show me instead the inseparability of the triune God. Remember you who are speaking are a Catholic, and to Catholics you are speaking." For thus does our faith teach, that is, the true the right Catholic faith, gathered no by the opinion of private judgment but by the witness of the Scriptures, not subject to the fluctuations of heretical rashness but grounded in apostolic truth. This we know, this we believe. This, though we do not see it with our eyes nor as yet with the hear, so long as we are being purified by faith, yet by this faith we most firmly and rightly maintain the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a Trinity inseparably one God, not three gods. But yet one God in such a way that the Son is not the Father, and the Father is not the Son, and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son but the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. This ineffable Divinity, abiding ever in Itself, making all things new, creating, creating anew, sending, recalling, judging, delivering, this Trinity, I say, we know to be at once indescribable and inseparable. [Sermon 1.1.2 - c. 410-12]
What is the meaning of Patristic.
Never seen that word before.
I haven’t accepted the Luminous Mysteries as part of the Rosary and probably won’t. But I can understand why someone might want to adapt them as a new private prayer.
Patristic: dealing with the Church Fathers (leading teachers, including the apostles and those who were directly taught by the apostles). Their writings, while not a part of the canon of Scripture, gives us tremendous insight on how the early Church thought.
For example, the oldest “Patristic” document out there is the Didache (The teaching of the 12 apostles). It is dated from as early as AD 45. Another one of interest is The Epistle of St Clement to the Corinthians. It is also dated in the first century. (Clement was the fourth pope from AD 80 to 99)
(Resp., Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!)
“1. O John, who sawest the Spirit,that abode on the head of the Son,to show how the Head of the Highestwent down and was baptizedand came up to be Head on earth!Children of the Spirit ye have thus become,and Christ has become for you the Head:ye also have become His members.
2. Consider and see how exalted ye are;how instead of the river Jordanye have glorious Baptism, wherein is peace;spreading her wings to shade your bodies.In the wilderness John baptized:in Her pure flood of Baptism,purely are ye baptized therein.
3. Infants think when they see its glory,that by its pomp its might is enhanced.But it is the same, and within itselfis not divided.But the might which never waxes less or greaterin us is little or again great;and he in whom is great understanding,great in him is Baptism.
4. A mans knowledge, if it be exalted,exalted also is his degree above his brethren;and he whose faith is great,so also is his promise;and as is his wisdom, so also his crowning.As is the light, which though it be all goodlyand equal all of it with itself,yet goodlier is one eye than another.
5. Jesus mingled His might in the water:put ye Him on my brethren as discerning men!For there are that in the water merelyperceive that they are washed. With our body be our soul washed!The manifest water let the body perceive,and the soul the secret might;that both to the manifest and to the secret ye may be made like!
6. How beautiful is Baptismin the eye of the heart; come, let us gaze on it!Like as by a seal ye have been moulded;receive ye its image,that nought may be lacking to us of our image!For the sheep that are white of heartgaze on the glory that is in the water:in your souls reflect ye it!
7. Water is by nature as a mirror,for one who in it examines himself.Stir up thy soul, thou that discernest,and be like unto it!For it in its midst reflects thy image;from it, on it, find an example;gaze in it on Baptism,and put on the beauty that is hidden therein!
8. What profits it him that hearsa voice and knows not its significance?Whoso hears a voice and is devoidof the understanding thereof,his ear is filled but his soul is empty.Lo! since the gift is abundant,with discernment receive ye it.
9. Baptism that is with understandingis the conjunction of two lights,and rich are the fountains of its rays. And the darkness that is on the mind departs,and the soul beholds Him in beauty,the hidden Christ of glory,and grieves when the glory fails.
10. Baptism without understandingis a treasure full yet empty;since he that receives it is poor in it,for he understands nothow great are its riches into which he enters and dwells.For great is the gift within it,though the mean man perceives notthat he is exalted even as it.
11. Open wide your minds and see, my brethren,the secret column in the air, whose base is fixed from the midst of the waterunto the door of the Highest Place, like the ladder that Jacob saw.Lo! by it came down the light unto Baptism,and by it the soul goes up to Heaven,that in one love we may be mingled.
12. Our Lord when he was baptized by Johnsent forth twelve fountains;and they issued forth and cleansed by their streamsthe defilement of the peoples.His worshippers are made white like His garments,the garments in Tabor and the body in the water.Instead of the garments the peoples are made white,and have become for Him a clothing of glory.
13. From your garments learn, my brethren,how your members should be kept.For if the garment, which ever so many timesmay be made clean,is duly kept for the sake of its comeliness,the body which has but one baptismmanifold more exceeding is the care of its keeping,for manifold are its dangers.
14. Again the sun in a house that is strait,is straitened therein though he be great:but in a house that is goodly and large,when he rises thereonfar and wide in it he spreads his rays;and though the sun is one and the same in his nature,in divers houses he undergoes changes:Even so our Lord in divers men.” +Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns for the Feast of Epiphany IX.