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Advent Season Reflection Series

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From the Newman campus and the reflective hearts of generous persons, you are invited to journey with the greater Newman family in preparing for Christmas. Every week you will receive reflections for each day of that week. Blessings and a peaceful journey.

Advent Reflections - Week 1

Sunday, November 27

Isaiah 2:1-5, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:37-44


"Are you ready for Christmas yet?" I've been asked that question a lot recently. And my first thought was, No, I guess I'm not! I have no gifts planned yet, I've not been out shopping... no decorating or getting out my treasured nativity sets or too busy to think of writing Christmas cards. So, I politely answer that question with an honest: "NO, I'm not ready yet." And that caused me to think: what do I need to be doing to get ready?" And ready for what, besides the actual day of December 25.

The four weeks of Advent are given to us precisely to help us with that preparation.

The 1st Sunday of Advent brings our attention to Christ's final coming. The reading from Isaiah challenges us: In what specific ways are each of us called to lay down the swords and spears of our own divisiveness, our stereotypes, our prejudices, and hurtful language? What about the ways in which we enter into and perhaps help cause the polarization in our world, especially in our churches and government? We must be bringers of peace and light into our world.

The letter to the Romans invites us to hear the call. Wake up, wake up now! Don't go through life with eyes closed in denial of what we are called to extend daily: Christ's own mercy and forgiveness, compassion and care for those different from ourselves, those we might consider unacceptable, those in need of life's basic necessities.

The Gospel of Matthew, our Lord is calling us again: WAKE UP, my people! in order to be ready for my comings, at the time of our own personal deaths or at my mysterious final coming. Be part of my coming into this world now.

So back to that first question: "Am I ready for Christmas?" My promise to myself is that I will seriously meditate on the Sunday scripture readings. And I will look to find Christ bring Christ, not only my own acts of loving and giving, but also in the carols, music, colors, lights, cards, gifts, friends and family of this holy season. Will you join with me?

- Sister Marsha Wilson, ASC '67

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Monday, November 28

Isaiah 4:2-6, Matthew 8:5-11


The Christmas Carol ‘Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming’ has a line, “Isaiah ‘twas foretold it.”

Today’s verses from Isaiah foretell how the Lord washes away the filth and purges the blood with a blast of searing judgement; then His glory will be shelter and protection.

The verses from Matthew tell the story of the centurion who recognizes Jesus’ healing power, requests it for his servant, and humbly acknowledges he is not worthy to have Jesus enter under his roof.

Advent is our time to prepare for Jesus’ coming and a reminder of our judgment when we die. Jesus is our Savior who washes away our sins and shelters us from the storms. May we recognize our unworthiness like the centurion as we prepare for Christmas.

- Amy Brugman ‘86

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Tuesday, November 29

Isaiah 11:1-10, Luke 21-24


So many of my friends love Christmas.   Christmas carols on Spotify.  Families reunited.  Familiar passages read around the dinner table.

I suppose I love Christmas.  But I don’t really feel that.  I feel like I need Christmas.

The imagery of Isaiah 11 is compelling.  Wolves living with sheep, lions lying down with kids, calves and lions feeding together.

We read these lines and ask (plead?), how long?...For the images on our phones are different: 

"5 Dead, more than a dozen injured in shooting..."

"Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said at least 437 Ukrainian children have been killed."

"WHO says Tigray is out of vaccines, antibiotics, and insulin as deaths from preventable diseases..."

Here, in this fallen world, today, next week, next year, I need Christmas. For my heart may break as I ask "how long..."

But Christmas means I never have to ask, 'will this ever...' And that’s everything.

- Kelly McFall, Professor of History

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Wednesday, November 30

Romans 10:9-18, Matthew 4:18-22


In both passages, Matthew and Romans, there is a theme of faith by hearing. Romans says, “faith comes from what is heard and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” This is also apparent in Matthew when Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to follow him. They had so much faith in Christ that they dropped everything and followed him. God calls us to have faith in him and follow him every day. Like my namesake St. Andrew the apostle who I was named after by my parents, I am inspired through the readings to follow in his footsteps and follow Christ.

- Andrew Nguyen, Newman student

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Thursday, December 1

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


Advent is defined in the dictionary as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” These readings tell us how we should prepare. Matthew tells us that, to enter God’s kingdom, we must be like the “wise man who built his house upon the rock.” And how do we do that? We must hear the words of God and do them.

Each of us is created for a purpose. It is often difficult to discern this purpose. It’s not like God shoots us a text or gives us a call to say “Bill, this is your purpose.” Rather, it is in deepening our relationship with Christ, praying, fasting, meditating on Scripture, and simply sitting in the presence of God that we begin to understand what it is God has called us to do. This can be extremely hard, especially if we allow our “success” to be measured by the world’s standards. The reading from Isaiah reminds us that placing our complete trust in God will alleviate our worries and anxieties: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” So today, let us be like the wise man who built his house on rock, to hear the words of God and do them, to trust God and His plan for us.

- Haley Albers, ‘21

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Friday, December 2

Isaiah 29:17-24, Matthew 9:27-31


Like the blind men, we can be blind to many things in our lives. The blind men had to have faith and believe that the Lord can make them see again. We all go through challenges in life, we to must have faith and believe. The Lord will always be there for us. The blind men followed Jesus, spoke to Jesus, and through their faith were able to see. We too must pay attention and follow the Lord, speak to him through prayer. We sometimes think no one is listening; the blind men listened, believed and a miracle happened for them. We must be good stewards, be humble, help others listen, see goodness in others and be a part of the healing process in the world.

- Adam Gomez ’94, Board of Trustees

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Saturday, December 3

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


In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus has compassion on the people because he sees how lost they are. He compares them to sheep without a shepherd. Jesus then tells his disciples that “the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.” There are many people around us who feel lost, who feel alone, or who are hurting. There are people longing to be loved. Often, few of us are willing to go out of our way to love them. This Advent season, let us see others the way that God sees them. Let us strive to be more compassionate towards others in hope that they may come to know the love of Jesus.

- Cassidy Garretson, student

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Advent Reflections - Week 2

Sunday, December 4

Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-9, Matthew 3:1-12


The Gospel passage from Matthew is about John the Baptist, who lays the foundation for Jesus’ ministry. John does plenty of good work in telling the people to repent, but he never takes credit for his actions and is always pointing to Who is to come. Chapter 3 of Matthew’s Gospel ends with Jesus’ Baptism as he prepares for his public ministry.

As a teacher, I am not the inventor of my subject but merely a messenger that delivers the knowledge to my students. Isaiah foretold the coming of the Savior through the line of King David. Jesus came from a very humble beginning. God has consoled and laid my doubts to rest in the readings from Isaiah and the Gospel from which I am commissioned me to minister.

St. John called the people to a metanoia and a change in their ways; so too am I called to help change my students’ thoughts on the world around them. The water of Baptism was an outward sign of Jesus’ public start and I pray that God will aid me and all teachers and parents in giving students a new start. Hopefully, they will enter the world with curious and determined minds and ultimately “with one accord [we] may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.(Romans 15:6)

- Steven Nguyen '21

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Monday, December 5

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


In just twenty days, we will all celebrate the joyous and holy anniversary of the birth of Christ.  Especially in these unsettling times, Isaiah's words reflect, for me, the kind of "everlasting joy and gladness" we should all hope for, as we approach December 25th.

Isaiah's words of "seeing the glory of the Lord" hold the promise of better days to come...of hope for a new time of peace and prosperity, where "no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray" and "sorrow and sighing shall flee away."  What a blessed Christmas gift that would be for us all.

- Gerry Killeen ’69, Board of Trustees member

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Tuesday, December 6

Isaiah 40:1-11, Matthew 18:12-14


Perhaps due in part to Handel's Messiah, Isaiah 40:1-11 is one of the most memorable passages in that prophetic book. It promises comfort and hope, not just to the Jews of the Babylonian exile but to all persons: "The glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people shall see it together. It is a vision of radical, all-inclusive divine love, a vision Jesus will live out again and again in his ministry. It comforts, but it also challenges: can I truly embrace all others I encounter, see the hand of God upon them, not just tolerate but truly love them? That is my challenge if I am to help "prepare the way of the Lord" during Advent and all other seasons of my life.

- John Veal '78

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Wednesday, December 7

Isaiah 40:25-3, Matthew 11:28-30


I was given beautiful, powerful, and comforting words for reflection! The more times I read the passages from Isaiah and Matthew, the more comfort I feel! How exciting that our Everlasting God offers us rest and hope, telling us to put aside our fears and worries! God assures us of His care as He invites us to trust and follow Him. It seems simple, doesn't it?

- Patricia Hammon – SHA '67

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Thursday, December 8

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin

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


While our Blessed Virgin Mother was conceived without original sin, she was human. She experienced fear, pain, and loss and yet also experienced true joy. Mary was troubled hearing the words of the Angel, Gabriel, only to rejoice in knowing that she will bear within her the Incarnate Word. Mary gave birth in a Cave but rejoiced in being able to hold our Lord in her arms. Mary experienced deep loss at the death of her son our Lord, only to rejoice in His resurrection. May we offer up our own fear, pain, and loss so that we too may experience true joy in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

- Dr. Lori Steiner, Professor of Mathematics

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Friday, December 9

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


Although Advent is pregnant with hope and anticipation, it is not a time for passivity. If we have accepted Jesus' invitation to come after Him and share His life, we must intentionally go where He goes and meet whom Jesus meets, be they Jew or Gentile, poor or rich, old or young, gay or straight, immigrant or nativist. It is only then that our words, reinforced by our actions, can and will become the net that we cast which invites and encourages those unknown others, with whom we find ourselves in communion, to also accept Jesus' invitation to follow Him and to experience with us the joy and promise of Advent.

- Richard Klinge '71

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Saturday, December 10

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


We are being called by God to listen closely as he speaks so that we may have a better understanding of his vision. Practicing faith requires commitment, patience and humbleness. When following God’s vision for us we must not seek praise for doing good but give the glory to God. If we get caught up in our own self-righteousness it may lead us to turning away from God and walking a path of our own human will. We should always seek God’s guidance.

- Cindy Miles '09, President of the National Alumni Board

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Advent Reflections - Week 3

Sunday, December 11

Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11


Newman University endeavors to empower its graduates to transform society.  The Adorers of the Blood of Christ are challenged by their foundress, Saint Maria De Mattias, to work toward achieving “that beautiful order of things which the great Son of God came to establish by His Blood.”

I am an alum of Newman University, and a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.  How do I live in a way that strives to achieve those goals? If you struggle, with me, in how to respond to Christ’s call to his followers to live life in such a way as to be his messenger, today’s readings are a guide for us, especially in Advent, in how we might be true to our calling.

The prophet Isaiah promises:  The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice and shall flourish like the lily.  It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy….  Say to the fainthearted: Take courage and fear not.  God Himself will come and will save you.

James in his letter to the early Christians, exhorts them to “be patient and strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

St. Matthew tells of John the Baptist, who had been imprisoned by King Herod, sending his disciples to Jesus to ask him: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Jesus said: “Go and tell him what you have seen:  the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

So what does this mean for me, who wants to “transform society” from its desolate and impassable situations to a time of achieving “that beautiful order of things”?

In these readings, we hear the challenge:  take courage---fear not—rejoice with joy.  And realize:  I can only do this one day at a time.

At the end of each day, can I look back and see any evidence of my efforts to follow Jesus?  Perhaps it was in listening to someone who needed to be heard. . .in smiling to the stranger on the street. . .to feed the hungry. . .to reach out to heal a breach with another member of my family or a fellow worker or friend. . .in reaching out, as Jesus did, to touch someone in pain.

I only have this day—this moment—to be a faithful follower of Christ.  I cannot put it off.  Tomorrow may not come for me.

- Sister Tarcisia Roths ASC ’54, former President of NU

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Monday, December 12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe

Zechariah 2:14-17, Luke 1:39-47


As we journey through life, we must remember that we walk not by sight but by faith. The race is not for the swift, nor the battle for the strong. As we go through different seasons in our lives, we remember that all things work together for good. As seasons change, so will our circumstances, events, trials, and tests. When we place our trust in God, we understand that there is a time for everything, but we will not be alone.

Luke writes that an angel appeared to Mary bearing a message from God that she will bear a child. A woman could be stoned to death if she was suspected to be with a child before marriage, but Mary understood her purpose and her faith was strong. Mary knew that God would never forsake her. I encourage you today to put your faith in God knowing that all his plans for you are perfect. When fears and doubts cloud your mind, when you feel burdened and forsaken and when you feel unworthy, unloved, or unseen, trust in God’s promises. You are loved. God will never leave or forsake you. Thus, instead of asking, “why me?” pray that you may run and not get weary, that you will walk and not faint and that God gives you the strength, courage, resilience, and patience to reach your purpose. Pray for the unwavering faith that Mary had. Do not question God’s plan for you. Instead say, “I am the Lord’s servant…may your word to me be fulfilled.”

Today, let’s rejoice in knowing that, amid the current world events, we are blessed. Like Mary, let’s have faith in God. Let’s receive God in our hearts. May God’s dwelling within us be alive and cause life to stir in those who meet us.

- Stephanie Bustamate Vasques ‘09 

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Tuesday, December 13

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13, Matthew 21:28-32


Reflection coming soon

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Wednesday, December 14

Isaiah 45:6c-8, 21c-25, Luke 7:18b-23


“From the Rising of the Sun”   There is a sense of contentment to know that from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun, there is ONE Lord, One God, One Messiah, One Immanuel … He is ready and waiting with open arms for each one of us.   We need not look any place else.  He is our Savior.  Let Him not only walk with you today, let him be you today!

- Janet Eaton ‘86

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Thursday, December 15

Isaiah 54:1-10, Luke 7:24-30


Reflection coming soon

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Friday, December 16

Isaiah 45:6c-8, 21c-25,  Luke 7:18b-23


It is written in Isaiah, “I am the LORD, there is no other; I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well-being and create woe.”

Despite all the physical wants of this world, Advent reminds us of our one, true desire which is God. Where there is light, God is near, and where there is darkness, God is near. We must lift our triumphs and struggles of this life to Him in prayer.

“Seeing is believing.”  Luke writes that Jesus said, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Growing up, I was always awestruck by the many miracles of Jesus in Scripture. Although Jesus walked this earth some 2000+ years ago, my faith is strengthened each day as I see Him working through the hands of others. This season of Advent is spent preparing ourselves to “see” the full Glory of God upon his return.

- Zack Brake, Assistant AD for Marketing & Communications

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