“See Your Savior Comes” (Horizons of the Heart 16)

The grace we are asking of God: a deeply felt awareness of how God draws us into the unfolding of the mystery of the Word made flesh and how in doing this we enter into a process of healing that we might love Jesus and follow him more intentionally

Horizons of the Heart is inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius and my own notes from my thirty-day Ignatian retreat in 2022.

Entering Prayer

Offer your prayer to God, desiring that in every way it will give him glory. I pour myself out in worship. You could use a few lines from the following Psalms if this helps you enter into prayer:

Psalm 100:1-5
Psalm 34:1-9
Psalm 111:1-5
Psalm 95:1-7
Psalm 92:1-8
Psalm 7:17

Ask of God what you think you need. (It could be later that God will show what you truly need and what you should be asking for, but begin now where you are.)

Giovanni Bellini, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Circumcision and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Over several periods of prayer, linger imaginatively over the events narrated in Luke 2:21-38.

In the second chapter of Saint Luke’s Gospel, beginning from verse 21, the evangelist tells us about the Circumcision and Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Circumcision was performed eight days after the birth. The Presentation of Jesus and the Purification of the Virgin was held forty days after Jesus’ birth.

At the Circumcision, Jesus was incorporated into the people of Israel. At this family ceremony, he received the name Jesus, indicating that he was to be the Savior of mankind. In the Circumcision, we encounter the true scandal of the Incarnation: God really became human. God really took up all that human life entails, including the suffering that would culminate one day on the cross.

The circumcision constituted Jesus a member of the old covenant, but his presentation in the temple was his formal dedication to the service of the Lord. According to the Law, every woman who gives birth to a son must wait forty days before entering the temple, and then “she shall take two turtles, or two young pigeons, one for a holocaust, and another for sin: and the priest shall pray for her, and so she shall be cleansed” (Lev 12:8).

This feast also celebrates the coming of the Lord into his temple. As the prophet Malachi proclaims, “presently the Lord, whom you seek, and the angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple” (Mal 3:1). In the Presentation of the Lord, we see the long-expected fulfillment of God’s promises. For more than a millennium, the Jewish people waited for the Messiah. Generation after generation endured hardship and suffering—evil kings, idolatrous neighbors, exile—yet still, they waited. This patient expectance is typified in Simeon and Anna, two faithful Jews who greet the baby Jesus in the Temple, recognizing at last the One who is to come.

Imagining Yourself Present

Over several days, spend some time imagining yourself at the family celebration of Jesus’ circumcision and later in the temple with Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna.

In Gospel contemplation you attempt to grasp something of Jesus’ human existence and as you do this, the Spirit begins to grasp you in your existence. This prayer gives us contact with Jesus, the risen Lord, who is present now, influencing my life now. The historical events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, his healing and his preaching, transcend time and place. The THEN of Jesus’ life becomes NOW. It is important to allow oneself to become part of the story-event.

This is a perfect time also to place in Jesus’ heart your own birth and childhood, early family situations and your relationship with parents, your religious upbringing in the first half of your life, encounters with the elders in your own family… Memories… Gratitude… Regrets… Hurt…

Fra Bartolomeo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Are you carried in Mary’s arms? Does aged Anna lift you to her heart? Do you regret that there was no baptism, or no real religious sense in your home? Were you a young mother like Mary?

Where are you in these scenes? Speak to the people that populate them. Allow your affective imagination to lead you closer to them, to give you a sense of this felt-closeness that you so desire. You can imagine with your mind’s eye, with your sense of hearing or touch.

Imagining the Gospel events in the present

Over time, allow these stories in the gospel of Luke to become current as if Mary and Joseph are walking into your house with your friends and family. What do you feel as they enter into your space.

In Gospel Contemplation, Ignatius takes advantage of the way in which spiritual growth, like so many other aspects of maturing that we experience, takes place primarily when our affectivity is engaged. It is the shift in one’s deeper emotions and feelings that leads to a change in one’s behavior. We reach these deeper levels through metaphor, image, and symbol—the work of the imagination.

Observing attractions and resistance

Notice any interior reactions that you experience: comfort, discomfort, being lifted up, struggle, joy, sadness….

Observe the actions, words, emotions, sensitivities, attitudes of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and to which of them you feel more attracted. Which of them arouse more negative feelings or resistance? Return to aspects of these meditations that seem more personally meaningful.

Entering the Mystery of the story

As you begin to enter the mystery of the story more deeply, you will begin to see or hear or touch. You will enter into the event and interact more deeply. Little by little you will become more present to the mystery and the mystery will be present to you.

As you become more and more involved in the event of Jesus’ mystery that you are contemplating, your life and your choices are affected. You find yourself changing and desiring to change.

Conversing as with a friend

Read the following verses from the prophet Isaiah (62:11-12) in relation to Jesus coming to the temple. Read this slowly, several times, allowing some moments of rest between your reading.

The Lord has made proclamation
    to the ends of the earth:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.’”
They will be called the Holy People,
    the Redeemed of the Lord;
and you will be called Sought After,
    the City No Longer Deserted.

Is there some new awareness coming forward as you consider these words? Do they shed some unexpected or new light on your own birth and childhood?

Continue in quiet—or even silent—intimate conversation with Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Ask them what is the grace that you should be praying for. Beg this grace of the Father. Then beg this grace of the Son, your Savior and Shepherd. Finally, beg for this grace from the Holy Spirit who is the source of all holiness.

If you wholly lived this grace that you are begging for, what would your life look like? Your relationships? Your prayer? The way you work? The way you love? The way you serve? What about you would make you the most happy?

Ask Mary, Joseph and Jesus to show you one specific gift they wish to give you. Receive it and remain in stillness and quietly relaxed presence under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Reviewing the graces of prayer

When you finish praying, write down the main gifts and discoveries from this time of intimate contemplation. What is one concrete thing you can do to solidify these gifts in your life.

3 thoughts on ““See Your Savior Comes” (Horizons of the Heart 16)

  1. Thank you Sister Kathryn! Your work in our Lord Jesus Christ inspires me to give more thoughtful prayer to our Lord. Thank you for all that you have done!

    Blessed Be God Forever, Amen,


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