Advent Reflections

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Advent Reflection Series

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No Advent Reflection Today

Advent Reflections will begin on Dec. 3, 2023. Please visit us again soon.

Sunday, December 3

Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

Necessity, desire or request for watchfulness? The three scripture passages for this first day of Advent seem to repeat over and over: wait, be patient, be confident for "God is near, at the very gates" (Mk 13:29) and no eyes ever in the history of religions have seen a God so close to us as our God, a God who is present and "works for those who wait for him." (Isaiah)

There is no doubt that God is present, no doubt that God will work in us and through us in our lives. The question is : are we willing to wait, to be patient, to continue to hope even when we feel alone? The Venerable John Merlini, spiritual director of Saint Maria De Mattias, once reassured her with words similar to these: Never doubt the closeness of God. Imagine being in a dark room with one of your co-sisters, you do not see her and yet you do not doubt her presence. So it is with God and even more.

For the rest of this Advent season, let's ask God for the gift of watchfulness, let's desire God in our hearts, let's proclaim with our actions that God is present and alive in our lives.

- Sister Jenny Sellaro ASC '20, Board of Trustees

Monday, December 4

Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 8:5-11

When the Centurion in today's gospel showed great faith and humility by asking Jesus to heal his servant, Jesus was amazed by the unexpected level of faith from this soldier and non-Jew. There are very few times in the gospels that say Jesus was "amazed". Most likely this Centurion saw and heard of the wonders and miracles being performed and taught by Jesus during this time. He grasped so easily and with humility the power and authority Jesus was given, even more than some of Jesus' faithful followers, which Jesus pointed out. Help us to live with faith like this Roman soldier, with total humility and acceptance of God's power and love for us all.

- Maureen "Mo" Rohleder '82, '13 Associate Athletics Director/Compliance Director

Tuesday, December 5

Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 10:21-24

Jesus is always inviting us to grow nearer to Him. Jesus does not need us to be wise and learned to know Him. He reveals to the childlike, and even Jesus Himself recognizes that all He has is from the Father. Jesus invites us into this childlikeness and poverty. Like a child runs into the mother's arms when scared or alone, so ought we run to God. We grow up and stop running to our mother's or father's arms, but we ought never stop running to the Father, begging for forgiveness and mercy, begging for His help in time of need, and thanking God for the good we don't deserve. God did not just create us, but He sustains our being constantly breathing life into us. Our dependence on God keeps us close to Him and we cannot be without Him.

- Colby McKee, Student Seminarian

Wednesday, December 6

Isaiah 25:6-10a; Matthew 15:29-37

In Matthew, we read that the disciples struggled to have enough bread to feed the crowd that had been with Jesus for three days. We are told that Jesus does not produce food out of nowhere, but rather takes the little that the apostles have, and multiplies it a thousand-fold. As we prepare this Advent season for the celebration of the birth of our Lord, let us be reminded that no matter how little I think I have to give, if I put my gifts at the service of Jesus they become infinite and immeasurable.

- Wendy Glick, Board of Trustees

Thursday, December 7

Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7:21, 24-27

As I think about the readings, I am overcome by the level of trust that we need to place in the Lord. Trust that we will be fed, that Jesus will wipe away our tears and that he will swallow up death forever. For me, Advent is a time to reflect on the positives and the challenges that we have endured during the year and trust that everything happens according to God's plan. As we prepare ourselves for the Lord's coming, we need to trust that the work we do will be pleasing to him.

- Bob Beumer, Vice President for Advancement

Friday, December 8

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

- Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38

Today's readings help us to reflect on the infinite wisdom of God, with which he formed an infallible plan for our lives that is so deserving of our trust. Mary provides an incredible example of what it looks like to trust in God's plan, especially when facing confusion and fear. God asked her to become a mother as a young, unmarried woman, something that no doubt would have caused fear. She did not fully understand how God could make it happen, yet Mary gave herself totally to Him as His faithful servant. Although she could not foresee everything in her future, she trusted that wherever God was leading her was ultimately good, and how true that was!

We hear Paul speak about God's loving will for us, that we might come to know Him and bring God glory in our lives. Living according to God's will requires much surrender. How often do we try to control our lives according to our will alone? How often are we like Adam and Eve, who were tempted into thinking they knew better than God?

In this season of Advent, let us pray for the courage and trust to fully surrender ourselves to God's will. Let us seek the plan that will bring us more joy that we could ever create for ourselves. Let us glorify the Lord with our lives!

- Elise Helfrich, Student

Saturday, December 9

Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26; Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5a, 6-8

At the end of Matthew's chapter nine, Jesus appears to heal and comfort those who are sick and abandoned. This messianic action is promised by Isaiah. He will hear us when we cry out, comfort us in troubled times, and guide us on the right path. We only need to follow Jesus and dwell in His presence, as did the disciples, to walk with Him. We place our trust in the promise of scripture and our hope in the promise of Christ. And, we are blessed to provide this hope and promise with others who are troubled, lost, and abandoned. So, let us look to Jesus and walk in His presence so that we may bring the light of Christ to all.

- Kurt McDonald, E-Sports Coach

Sunday, December 10

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8

Does a song pop into your head from time to time that carries a message if listened to carefully? Godspell's famous musical mantra PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD is in mine today as I reflect on Isaiah's words, later bellowed by John the Baptist in the desert. A mantra repeats a phrase over and over to keep our attention focused on the message. Yes, it takes us more than one time to realize the impact of the Incarnation in our lives, and to wait and prepare for the second coming of the Lord.

In the meantime, as a visual learner, I appreciate the vivid images Isaiah gives us to stay focused on clearing, unblocking our paths of preparation this Advent: " ...make straight the highway; every valley shall be filled in; mountains and hills made low, rough lands made a plain, a broad valley." Could a block be: resisting prayer time, being tempted to lose hope because of wars, forgetting the power of community? Preparing the way, making straight the path will clear our vision and reveal the glory of the Lord; and what better way to do it, engaged in community, so that, as Isaiah says, "….all people shall see it together.

- Sister Joan Stoverink ASC

Monday, December 11

Isaiah 35: 1-10; Luke 5:17-26

As we approach Christmas, we are constantly reminded of the gifts God has given to us. As the weather grows colder families begin to gather, the Church fills with color, and children eagerly await the arrival of ol' St. Nick. Towns transform into glowing spectacles lit by millions of Christmas lights, directly echoing Isaiah, "Let the desert and the dry lands be glad, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom; let it burst into flower, let it rejoice and sing for joy." Our world truly lights up with the celebration of the birth of Jesus. During these extraordinary times we must remember to take a moment to pause and thank the Lord for all He has given us. This Christmas, as we revel in family traditions and enjoy the festive spectacles with which the Lord blesses us, I encourage us to take a quick second to simply say "thank you."

- Kyle Betzen, Nursing Faculty

Tuesday, December 12

Zechariah 2:14-17; Luke 1:26-38

We open our hearts in prayer to "sing and rejoice" for today we celebrate the announcement to Mary of the birth of Jesus. We will be welcoming the birth of Christ soon. He comes to save us, love us and have mercy on us, especially to those who are fearful of heart. Just like Mary, we cannot be afraid because, through a prayerful heart, we will find favor with God. Today we also celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is a great mother to the Indigenous people of Mexico and the Americas. Mary brings comfort and healing to those in need of her spiritual strength. Bendiciones a todos. (Blessings to all)

- Yolanda Camarena, Board of Trustees

Wednesday, December 13

Isaiah 40:25-31; Matthew 11:28-30

What do we see? Isaiah reveals a glorious God who does not grow faint or weary. This Holy One has armies under His great might and strength. And it is the voice of this God that gently calls out in Jesus' words, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." It is Jesus who renews the strength of those who come to Him, but He makes a demand of our hearts. We cannot find rest if we do not put on His yoke. What is Jesus' yoke? It is to be a meek and humble child of The Tender Father. What is easier than this? Isaiah promises that people will run and not grow faint, that they will soar like eagles. What is lighter than this? Jesus invites us to trade the world's abandonment for rest in the Father.

- Samuel Schmidt, Student Seminarian

Thursday, December 14

Isaiah 41:13-20; Matthew 11:11-15

In Isaiah, we find relief in God's comforting words, "For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you." In a world fraught with turmoil and uncertainty, God declares, "Do not fear; I will help you." God promises to change our fears into comforting tranquility and reassuring peace. God's promise does not guarantee the absence of challenges but does assure us of His unwavering presence and support. We are never alone in facing our difficulties.

As we approach Christ's birth, may we be reminded that Jesus is the embodiment of God's promise in Isaiah. His ministry echoes the imagery of dejected people and places flourishing, the spiritual renewal of people that transcends all social boundaries. Jesus urges us to embark on a transformative journey, embracing a life centered on God's love and peace. His teachings form a universal call to compassion and peace in all things, transforming our individual lives, our communities and the well-being of all humanity.

- Christi Hays, DNAP Administrative Assistant

Friday, December 15

Isaiah 48: 17-19; Matthew 11:16-19

In reflecting on these readings, I was immediately struck that Isaiah calls the Lord, redeemer - an accurate naming long before Jesus, the one who redeemed us, appeared. Isaiah has the Redeemer saying to us, "I teach you what is for your good and lead you on the way you should go." During this Advent season of preparing the way of the Lord, Jesus intensely desires to lead us. He does not want us to be spiritually blind as is the crowd in the Gospel. Jesus wants us to be wide-eyed and alert to the daily opportunities to walk the way as redeemed daughters and sons. "Wisdom is vindicated by her works."

- Anonymous Alumna

Saturday, December 16

Sirach 48: 1-4, 9-11; Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

In today's passage from Sirach, we see the prophet Elijah proclaiming to the Northern Kingdom of Israel a call to repentance. We are offered these words, "You who were taken up by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire; you who were ready at the appointed time". Elijah had a heart fused with the heart of God. No wonder this prophet was boldly taken into Eternal Life! St. Alphonsus de Ligouri said, "Perfect Love of God means the complete union of our will with God's." The reason for the perfection of our beloved Saints is their ardent love for Christ and pressing conformity to God's Will. Are we, like Elijah, ready to meet our Maker? Are we ready to step into the splendor of God's Holy Face? May we reflect together on what Christ is asking of each of us, especially in this Advent season.

- Carolyn Goertz, Friend of Newman

Sunday, December 17

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

We are one week away from the liturgical celebration of the birth of the Christ, the One sent by God whose sandals his precursor felt unworthy to untie. Today's scriptures remind us of the redemptive graces the Christ brings: peace, salvation, justice, mercy, freedom, wisdom, holiness. We, in turn, are called to live in these graces, as we, anointed with him in Baptism, bring healing, liberation, and the good news to all with whom we come in contact.

Our world is greatly in need of these redemptive graces. And our God invites us to join in God's mission, promising God's faithfulness and strength to accomplish what is asked of us. Trusting in this faithfulness, we can truly live the JOY of this “Gaudete Sunday,” giving thanks in all things and praising God with Mary, “The One who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is God's name!”

- Sister Toni Longo ASC

Monday, December 18

Jeremiah 23:5-8; Matthew 1:18-25

Jeremiah prophesies about the coming of a righteous and just ruler. This dramatic prequel paints a vivid picture of a leader who will bring justice, righteousness, and salvation. His name: “The LORD our justice”. Matthew brings this messianic forecast to life in his narration of the story of Jesus' birth, a version which emphasizes Joseph's role in the Holy Family. “Do not be afraid.” Notice the recurring theme of divine intervention and the importance of surrendering to God's will, even in moments of uncertainty. As both a lawyer and a father, I am inspired to approach challenges with faith and openness to unexpected paths, recognizing that God's plans may diverge from my own. Matthew's narrative encourages me to trust that God's guidance will bring unexpected blessings, fulfillment, and even the justice that can be hard to find when God is left out of the equation.

- J.T. Klaus '87, Parent of a Newman Student

Tuesday, December 19

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25; Luke 1:5-25

“God is good all the time through the darkest night his light will shine” Dan Moen

When God has plans for our lives, he will make a way for them to happen. When questions arise about how they will be possible, God is sovereign and has control over all situations, even when we cannot understand. In both passages God provided a son for two families that believed there was no chance to conceive. There were consequences for their doubt, but plans were still carried out. In both instances God had plans for Samson and John that were greater than what either family could imagine.

In our times of doubt, God has a plan for our lives as well. God is good all the time!

- Amanda Wills, School of Education Program Coordinator

Wednesday, December 20

Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38

The passage from Luke teaches us about Mary's remarkable faith and obedience. Despite the incomprehensibility of the situation presented to her, Mary does not doubt or question God's plan. Instead, she willingly accepts her role in God's divine plan, demonstrating an unwavering trust in His purpose for her life. Luke invites us to examine our attitudes toward God's plans in our lives. The passage encourages us to imitate Mary's faith, humility, and submission to God's will, even in circumstances that may seem challenging. We are reminded that, through faith and obedience, we can be part of God's greater purpose and experience His extraordinary work in our lives.

- Alex Schreiber, Student

Thursday, December 21

Song of Songs 2:8-14; Luke1:39-45

Advent is the time of the prophets, and they can be hard to understand. I used to struggle with the prophets: they seem too concerned with doom and gloom. Isn't Christianity all about hope and joy? However, I have come to love the prophets for their candor and startling potency. The wisdom of the prophets is that no one can be saved if they do not believe they need to be saved – just as opening the cell door does nothing to help a prisoner who believes he's in paradise. The prophets' role is to wake us up and help us recognize our dire need for a Savior. They open our eyes to the fact that we are broken people in a broken world, and there is no hope for us short of a miracle – and only when we are convinced of this can we fully rejoice at the great Miracle of Christmas.

- Thomas Elliott, Student Seminarian

Friday, December 22

Samuel 1:24-28; Luke 1:46-56

Samuel and Luke offer insights on dedication, sacrifice, and trust. These passages symbolize the strength found in dedication and faith. Hannah's fulfillment of her vow to dedicate her son Samuel and Mary's gratitude for God's plan showcase unwavering commitment and belief in a Higher Purpose. They reflect a deep devotion, inspiring us to honor our commitments and trust beyond immediate understanding.

Both Hannah and Mary surrender something significant—Hannah giving up her cherished son and Mary embracing an unexpected and life-altering responsibility. Their willingness to let go of personal desires for a Higher Cause reflects the selflessness and strength that we should all strive toward. These passages encourage trust and surrender to the unknown, illustrating a submission to a Higher Power, even when facing uncertainty or challenges. This resonates with our experiences, grappling with life's unpredictability and finding comfort in placing trust in something beyond our control.

In essence, these passages serve as timeless reminders of the power of dedication, sacrifice, and trust. They provide a narrative that speaks to the human soul, prompting us to reflect on the values of commitment, selflessness, and belief in Someone greater.

- Jessica Bird, Dean of the School of Education and Social Work

Saturday, December 23

Malachi 3:1-4, 23:24; Luke 1:57-66

As a child, waiting to discover what Santa would leave by the fireplace stirred a mix of excitement and a touch of worry—eagerly expecting a much-hoped-for toy while fearing the possibility of disappointment. These passages evoke that same feeling, the tension between anticipation and realization, ultimately assuring us that God keeps His promises. In this season of reflection, we're encouraged to notice the small, unexpected joys and the subtle signs of something unfolding amidst the routines of everyday life.

- Kathryn Nelson, Assistant Professor of Graduate Education

Sunday, December 24

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Romans:16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

On this sacred Christmas eve, a moment steeped in the anticipation and joy of the birth of our Lord, the profound message of today's gospel echoes the divine message which forever changed the course of human history. There we find the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary the extraordinary news that she will conceive and bear the Son of God. In the face of the incomprehensible, Mary responds with humble faith, saying, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

In Mary's response, we witness unwavering faith and surrender to the divine will. Her acceptance of God's plan exemplifies the essence of our faith, which calls us to trust in God's providence even when faced with the unknown and seemingly unsurmountable challenges.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, consider the parallels between Mary's acceptance of the divine plan and our own journeys. Daily we encounter uncertainties, complexities, and moments that test our faith. Mary's steadfast trust in God's plan serves as an example of courage that we can strive to emulate. May her courageous response inspire us, so that we find grace, purpose, and the true spirit of the season!

- Dr. Kathleen Jagger, President of Newman University

Monday, December 25

Isaiah 52: 7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18

"That can't be!" "It's true." :But who would love that much?" "Who told you that?"

Be still and listen… I love you so much but you human beings were having a difficult time believing this. What to do? Then Jesus, my Son and Word, agreed to become part of the human family, a human being. “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Impossible but true!

We give thanks, we sing praises and glorias, we adore. We stand, sit, kneel in silent awe.

- Sister Therese Wetta ASC Director of Mission Integration

Advent is a liturgical season the Christian Churches offer us to spiritually prepare for the celebration of Christmas, the reality of Jesus becoming human so that we can become divine. Advent invites us to open our whole selves to welcome Jesus, God-made-flesh, Emmanuel.

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