Mission Rosary Mysteries (Adults)

The First Mission Mystery: The Visit of the Magi

Yellow beads recall a new day dawning in Asia, calling for dialogue among religions.

Behold, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem. Matt. 2:1

Particpants in Maryknoll's Little Folks program for kids impacted by HIV/AIDS

The Magi, astrologers of Persia’s Zoroastrian religion, could read stars the way you and I read the morning papers. Around the year 6 B.C. the planet Jupiter (signifying kingship) aligned with Saturn (governing Israel) and, appearing as one large star in the sky, crossed the constellation Pisces (symbolizing birth). For the Magi, the heavens themselves announced a newborn king of the Jews. How did these foreigners, following astrology, find Jesus? The mission mystery of the Magi teaches us that all who seek God with an open mind and heart will be guided to the Lord.

Modern missioners to Asia regard followers of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism with respect and reverence. When we approach ancient cultures and beliefs, we take our shoes off, realizing we stand on holy ground for God has preceded us. On our journey of faith, when we share our understanding of God with others and listen to their experiences of the divine, we all draw closer to the source of holiness, truth and life. A new day of faith dawns.

The Second Mission Mystery: Jesus sends out his disciples

The blue oceans surround the island nations, where Christians witness to God's love by word and action.

They set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news.  Luke 9:6

Not long after calling his disciples to follow him, Jesus sent them out on mission to the neighboring villages.  Although he told them to take nothing for the journey, they came back rejoicing.  After his resurrection, he commissioned them to bring the Good News to all the world.   The disciples spread out, unarmed and defenseless, empowered only by the Spirit of God. This was the original "Mission Impossible": spread the Good News to the ends of the earth. Here is the mission mystery: from this ragtag group of contentious disciples facing certain annihilation, Christianity spread and flourished throughout the world.

For millennia, island dwellers were indeed living at the farthest "ends of the earth." Cut off for centuries from other cultures, they developed a unique relationship with nature, especially the sea, which provided them with food, protection and transportation. At times it also brought death and destruction.  Only St. Francis of Assisi seemed to fully appreciate Jesus' command to preach to all creation. The sea, the sky and the earth await the Good News. The peoples who dwell on the world's islands and are most affected by the environment challenge us to approach nature with the respect it deserves as God's handiwork.

The Third Mission Mystery: Jesus cures the centurion's servant

Wearing his white zucchetto, the pope calls for a new evangelization in Europe and solidarity with oppressed people.

I have not found such great faith even in Israel.   Luke 7:9

There was no love lost between Romans and Jews. Romans represented the ruling empire; Jews were a proud yet subjugated people. Each considered the other the enemy. The centurion was desperate. His beloved servant lay dying. Unlike the typical centurion, who oppressed the people, this Roman officer helped the Jews and even built a synagogue for them.

But what impressed Jesus more was the man’s faith. Jesus held up the faith of this Roman soldier as a model for the People of God.   Love for his servant enabled the centurion to reach out to a man of another faith for help. For Jesus, solidarity with human suffering knew no nationality. When people express solidarity with other races, religions or nationalities, both sides find liberation.

Most of Europe has been Christian for the better part of 2,000 years. Much of that time was marked by wars, most of a religious nature. Disappointed or distrusting of organized religion, many Europeans no longer go to church. All across Europe majestic stone cathedrals are virtually empty. The Holy Father has called on his fellow Europeans to put old notions and ideologies aside and take a fresh look at the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Fourth Mission Mystery: Jesus talks with the Samaritan Woman

Red symbolizes the blood of martyrs that consecrated the Americas and reminds us of the true meaning of worship.

True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.  John 4:23

Jesus scandalized his disciples by talking with this Samaritan woman. He rejected arbitrary barriers that separated people into "us" and "them." The woman, for her part, at first hid behind stereotypes, seeing Jesus as a man and a Jew, and perhaps Husband Number Six.

When asked to call her husband, she replied, "I don't have one." Technically she told the truth: She had already had five and the man she was living with was not her husband. Instead of reproaching her for her serial monogamy and adultery, Jesus commends her for her truthfulness.

Jesus' words have a deeper meaning, for the word "Baal," which means "lord," can refer to one's husband or one's god. Samaritans were notorious for changing gods as often as this woman changed husbands. That explains her sudden interest in where Jews worship. Jesus assured her that, when worshiping God, spirit and truth mattered most. She left her water jar—her deeper thirst quenched—and became a missioner to her villagers and led them to Christ.

Missionaries such as Bartolomé de las Casas and Junípero Serra and martyrs like Isaac Jogues and his companions brought Christianity to the Americas. Unfortunately, experience has taught the Native Americans, from the Inuit of Canada to the Mapuche of Argentina, to suspect foreigners. 

Despite a steady stream of ideas and peoples from other continents, many groups maintain some of their traditional beliefs and practices. Native American Christians retain a strong appreciation for the spirit world. This mission mystery challenges us to look beyond outer rituals and seek the spirit and truth expressed through them.

The Fifth Mission Mystery: The Conversion of Paul

Green is the color of hope, the life-sustaining virtue missioners keep alive for devastated people in Africa.

Immediately he began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. Acts 9:20

Saul (Paul) of Tarsus was Christianity's sworn enemy and became one of its greatest advocates. His is the story of perfect conversion: not just changing religions, but changing his heart. The Risen Lord comes to Saul, not while he is praying or studying the Bible or in the Temple but while he is tracking down and arresting Christians. "Why do you persecute me?" the Lord asks. Paul realizes that when he persecutes Christians, he persecutes Jesus.

In his letters, he emphasized that Christ loved us "while we were sinners" to underscore that salvation and grace originate not from us but from God.  Paul remains the greatest spokesperson for the teachings of Jesus. He transformed the Church from a small, persecuted sect of Judaism into a truly universal faith that embraces all peoples. He realized that Christ's message wasn't just for the Jews in Jerusalem or scattered in the "Dispersion." The Gentiles (non-Jews) too are adopted children of God.

This mission mystery compels us never to dismiss others as beyond God’s reach, even those whose previous actions showed them to be our enemies.  Religious persecutions are not foreign to Africa. For more than 20 years a civil war has raged in Sudan between Muslims on one side and Christians and animists on the other. In Rwanda, the killing was between different tribes, though both sides were Catholic. Reconciliation of enemies remains the Church's greatest mission. Our love for one another remains the best way to proclaim that Jesus is Lord.