The Rosary,” wrote Blessed Pope John Paul II, “precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning.”
Pope Paul VI wrote that “without [this contemplation,] the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation is in danger of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas and of going counter to the warning of Christ: ‘And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words’ (Mt 6:7).’”
Because of this, it is vital that Christians familiarize themselves with the Scriptures in order to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ.
Below is the first glorious mystery. To see other mysteries, click here.
The Resurrection (Mark 16:1-7)
On the first day of the week after his crucifixion, Jesus rose from the dead.
St. Matthew recounts how women came to anoint Jesus’ dead body. When they got to the tomb they found that the large stone covering the entrance had been rolled back. The women went into the tomb and saw only a young man dressed in white, who told the women, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you” (28:5-7).
Jesus himself had pointed to the story of Jonah as a type of his resurrection: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12:40).
Just as Jonah speaks of himself as being alienated from and cast out by God (Jon 2:4), so Christ appears to experience this alienation from God when he cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). Just as Jonah was conscious in the belly of Sheol, so Christ descended to Hades (the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Sheol) after his death to deliver the righteous souls.
Finally, Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights (Jon 1:17) before being vomited out. Jonah writes, “You brought up my life from the pit.” In a similar way, Christ, who was “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12:40), was brought back to life from the dead.
Reflecting upon the importance of the bodily resurrection of Christ, St. Paul writes:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor 15:13-20).
This mystery fills us with great hopeful expectation. Death does not have the final word. God has overcome! Our life does not end at the grave, and we can rejoice with St. Paul, saying, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).