Welcome to our tenth and final week on our Oriens pilgrimage. Our destination is the Feast of the Presentation, which commemorates the moment when Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the Temple (Luke 2:22–40). The law of Moses required the purification of a mother forty days after the birth of a male child (Leviticus 12:1–8). It also stipulated that the firstborn belonged to the priests. A firstborn cow, sheep, or goat would be sacrificed to God, but not a child. The firstborn son would instead ransomed by a payment of money (see Exodus 13:11–16, Numbers 18:13–16). This is a reference to the tenth plague in Egypt, the death of the firstborn, and perhaps the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:2–8).
Saint Luke loves the Temple (his Gospel begins and ends in the Temple, and his symbol is the ox, a sacrificial animal). The way he writes about this moment, Jesus isn’t being redeemed but rather presented. The unseen God has been worshiped here for centuries. Now God himself, in the person of Jesus, is visiting his own temple. He comes in the humble form of a little baby. However, his visit does not go unseen. Simeon and Anna are symbols of the whole Old Testament. They have grown old waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled. And they have not been disappointed.
Simeon declares: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Lk 2:29-32) Remember how back at the beginning of Advent we were told to watch? These two old people are the still watching. And they are rewarded with a vision of the Savior and Lord that all the people are waiting for. Simeon and Anna perfectly symbolize what our Oriens pilgrimage is all about. Faith God has opened the eyes of their heart to see God’s presence and action in apparently ordinary moments. They recognize Jesus, the light of the world, and they begin to glow with his divine light. My prayer for every pilgrim is that, as you have been watching vigilantly all these weeks, the eyes of your heart have been enlightened by the light of faith. I pray that Christmas time has lit your heart on fire and that you, too, have begun to glow more brightly with God’s divine light.
Our prayer pilgrimage journey will end in just a few days. How will you continue your prayer once this book has finished? Flip ahead to page [XX] [ For design: add page number at proofs reference to The Journey Continues]and prayerfully consider some of my suggestions for continuing the journey.
Grace of the Week: On this final week of the journey we prepare ourselves for Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation. The liturgy that day will invite us, “Let us also, gathered together by the Holy Spirit, proceed to the house of God to encounter Christ. There we shall find him and recognize him in the breaking of the bread, until he comes again, revealed in glory.” Ask God for the grace of a burning faith so as to make our lives may be worthy of his eternal kingdom.
Small Group Outline
In addition to the daily prayer time, some folks might want to meet with friends or family for an in person or their own virtual group. Here is an outline to facilitate such a meeting.
- Opening Prayer
The leader opens the group with this prayer or with a prayer he or she has composed themselves. "God our Father, you have blessed us with the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to be faithful disciples of your Son. Stir into a bright flame the gift of faith we have received, that he may find us watchful and ready when he comes to welcome us into the kingdom of heaven. May your Holy Spirit to enlighten, guide, and bless us today. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."
- Group Check-In
Go around the room and share a burden and a blessing you experienced this past week. Where did you see Jesus, or who were you Jesus to this week?
- Suggested Discussion Questions
- If you meet early in the week, you can draw on some of the questions from week nine.
- Which scripture passage this week spoke to you most powerfully?
- Is there something new you learned about the beatitudes?
- Do you realize that Jesus has sent you to proclaim the Good News? How does that make you feel?
- What does the miraculous rescue of Peter say about the power of prayer?
- Do you see yourself as a steward of God's gifts?
- How will you celebrate the feast of the Presentation?
- What is one blessing you have received from your Oriens pilgrimage?
- How will you keep going after Oriens?
- Group leader should not feel pressure to get every question answered. Allow people the space to say anything and to have an honest, fruitful discussion, while also being mindful of the time allotted. It is important to end the formal part of the Bible Study at the time agreed upon by the group.
- Close with a prayer. Ask the group what they would like prayers for. Then conclude by praying an Our Father together.