Week 2: Newman Advent reflections

Dec 07, 2023
Advent week 2

Newman University invites all community members to reflect with weekly reflections throughout the season of Advent, Dec. 3-24.

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.

Sunday, Dec. 10

Desert with footprints in the sand

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

Reflection by Sister Joan Stoverink, ASC

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.”

Monday, Dec. 11

A cathedral in the nighttime is lit up with Christmas lights, a Christmas tree, and snow falling to the ground.

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

Reflection by Kyle Betzen, nursing faculty

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.”

Tuesday, Dec. 12

A sculpture of Our Lady of Guadalupe stands outside of a church.

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

Reflection by Yolanda Camarena, Board of Trustees

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.)

Wednesday, Dec. 13

An eagle soars through the sky.

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

Reflection by Samuel Schmidt, student seminarian

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.

Thursday, Dec. 14

A golden crucifix of Jesus Christ stands on display in a chapel.

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

Reflection by Christi Hays, DNAP administrative assistant

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.

Friday, Dec. 15

A silhouette of Jesus leading his flock of sheep.

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

Reflection: Anonymous alumna

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.”

Saturday, Dec. 16

A blue whirlwind of clouds.

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

Reflection by Carolyn Goertz, friend of Newman

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. 

Find all Advent Reflection Series

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. A new reflection will be shared for each day of the week. Blessings and a peaceful journey.