From the Newman University campus and the reflective hearts of generous persons, you are invited to journey with the greater Newman family in preparing for Christmas. Each week, new reflections will be shared for each day of the week. Blessings and a peaceful journey.
Be a living Amen to God’s love. Walk the Advent preparation with a more conscious awareness of God’s coming into each day.
Sunday, Dec. 18
Scripture readings: Isaiah 7:10-14, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-24
Reflection video with Ryan Huschka, ’07 associate professor of chemistry
“To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:” St. Paul writes this sentence at the beginning of his letter to the Romans in Chapter 1, Verse 7.
St. Paul is bluntly telling the early Christians in Rome that they are called to be saints! WE ARE ALL CALLED TO BE SAINTS IN OUR UNIQUE WAY!! I often ask myself, how am I called to be a saint? It seems like an overwhelming and honestly, an unachievable goal.
You see, the saints are a very eclectic group of holy men and women who lived fascinating lives. For example, St. Therese of Lisieux lived a very mundane, private life as a religious sister. Only after her death did others learn about what she called living “The Little Way”: Performing small acts of kindness for others with great love. On the other hand, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta lived a very public life of service by caring for the poorest of the poor in India. Then there is St. Francis of Assisi, who had such a profound impact on the world for both Christians and non-Christians that Time Magazine ranked him as one of the top 10 most influential people that lived in the last 1,000 years!! Clearly, the saints lived lives of heroic virtue or to put it another way, they all exemplified the extraordinary love of Jesus Christ.
Again, I wonder, how am I supposed to imitate the amazing lives of the saints?! Honestly, I find it difficult at times to love others in small ways with great love. In my day-to-day life, I don’t serve the extreme poor. I certainly don’t appear to be living a life worthy to be called a man of the millennia!
In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of a great saint, St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, in the first Chapter of Matthew’s Gospel:
…an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife.
When Joseph awoke, I imagine he was filled with anxiety and fear; however, St. Joseph responded to God’s command with a firm “Yes”. St. Joseph’s Yes ensured that Mary was safe so Jesus, Emmanuel, could be born.
Emmanuel means God is with us. Jesus, fully man and fully God, chose to come and be with us on Earth! He came to be with the righteous, but more importantly, he came to be with sinners. On Earth, Jesus spent time with tax collectors, prostitutes, drunkards, and all kinds of sinners! He spent time with sinners to show his extraordinary love by serving them and forgiving their sins! He came to forgive you! He came to forgive me! If the God of the Universe chose to be with us on Earth, then during this last week of Advent let us commit to being with Him!! Let’s commit to following St. Joseph’s example of saying “yes to God” in the midst of anxiety and fear. In this way, being in communion with God, we can fulfill St. Paul’s calling to become saints!
Monday, Dec. 19
Reflection by Christy Hawks, Senior Associate Director of Admissions:
Do you hear the good news the Lord constantly speaks for you? Gabriel the angel was sent to bring good news to Zechariah, who did not believe his words. Despite all his prayer to have a child and reassurance from Gabriel that his wife would conceive a son, Zechariah was unable to put his trust and faith in God’s word. The consequence of his disbelief was months of isolation and being unable to speak. Despite his obstinacy, God’s favor is seen in the birth of his son. Between today and Christmas Day, the liturgy features three Old Testament women who become pregnant against all the odds. This verse directly references Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. This reflection reminds us that God is in control of the human story. He intervenes graciously in our favor even when we believe something is impossible. Elizabeth’s faith sees no boundaries. Knowing she is barren; she has no difficulty in acknowledging the source of new life. “This is what the Lord has done for me.” This Advent Day, can you reflect on your life and say the same?
Tuesday, Dec. 20
Reflection by Dana Beitey, Director of Alumni Relations:
Isaiah’s goal is to spread a message of both warning and hope. He reminds the people of their sin, warns them of their fate but brings them a promise of restoration and salvation through a baby. Luke shares the story of Isaiah’s prophecy manifesting.
Isaiah’s message still applies recognize and repent of our sins and acknowledge God. It’s our responsibility to look for warning signs that we are disengaging from our relationship with God.
As we live out our daily lives, we may find ourselves straying. This might come in the form of a diminishing prayer life or a belief that things we are given are a result of our own doing and not God’s blessings. A daily check-in with God is a great way to maintain and grow our relationship with Him and to ultimately be reminded of Jesus’s purpose and the reason we celebrate this beautiful season of Christmas.
Wednesday, Dec. 21
Reflection by Sister Maureen Farrar ASC:
Today’s first reading comes from the Song of Songs and hints at God’s call to Mary that we heard in yesterday’s Gospel. Today’s Gospel offers another aspect of that call: responding to the needs of another without reserve. Upon hearing of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, “Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste…”.
It’s easy to talk ourselves out of seeing, hearing, feeling the unspoken need of another. We simply shut down or ignore our awareness and continue along our path blindfolded. But what if we looked at these needs which are so often on the margins of our life or in the lives of others, as places of opportunity, places where life, with a little help, can burst forth? What could happen? Have I ever opened myself without reserve to the needs of another? If not, why not? If so, what happened? In a recent book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, Pope Francis reminds us: “When God wanted to regenerate creation, He chose to go to the margins – to places of sin and misery, of exclusion and suffering, of illness and solitude – because they were also places of possibility…”
Thursday, Dec. 22
Reflections by Chris Keener, Director of Human Relations:
Hannah, in the Book of Samuel, reminds me of the blessing of my children when they were younger. At the birth of each of my children, I prayed for: God’s blessing, a suitable companion, and for His direction for their lives. As Hannah returned Samuel back to the Lord upon his birth, I learned that it was truly the only way to keep my children safe. It was assuring to know that no matter what happened in my children’s lives, the Lord had them. Everything ‘good’ or ‘bad’ had to come through Him before it was able to come to my children.
It was a reminder that all belongs to and that as we trust Him with whatever He has provided, He will return it back to us better than we could ever imagine. It is through false pretenses that we believe we can control and protect anything in this world. It is only through giving back what He has entrusted to us that we are truly able to see what God has planned. What in your life have you not entrusted to God that He is waiting for you to prepare an altar and return to Him,
so he can bless it?
Friday, Dec. 23
Anonymous reflection by an international student:
Malachi addresses the time where a Messiah will be sent as a messenger “to prepare and clear a way”. They describe him as like “a refiners fire and a launderers soap”. He is someone who removes impurities and cleanses our uncleanliness. When I look at our world of today, I realize just how necessary that is. For we are as humans in this day and age, a race so full of sin.
We point flaws in others without acknowledging our own, we tell so many lies to make ourselves look better than we are, and we seem to spend so much time living in the negative. The key as I have learned is to flip the negative into a positive and that positive is that while we are all these things and more, we are forgiven by our father because he sent his son to erase our wrongdoings so that we may see him when our time comes to leave this world.
Saturday, Dec. 24
Reflection by Lori Benge ’13, Board of Trustees:
Zechariah’s Canticle was birthed after nine months of contemplation and silence following the angel Gabriel announcing the birth of his son, John. Zechariah was then filled with the Holy Spirit and said, “You, (John) will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,” which was preparing for the birth of Jesus.
Maybe we will not experience this kind of silence, but we too can find the quiet space in our lives to be filled with the Holy Spirit and witness God’s wonderous presence in our lives. But how comfortable are we in the ‘silence’ of our lives? It is not easy to sit and quiet our minds as they struggle to stay focused on the here and now. We might find ourselves anxious about the unknown or our hearts might feel restless about what might be asked of us. But if we quiet ourselves, then we allow God to listen to our deepest thoughts and prayers with tender care where nothing is lost.
So let us take some time of silence in the craziness of our lives and be present as Zechariah did and let God embrace us with tenderness and love “to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Sunday, Dec. 25
On this delightful Christmas day, we share a reflection video with President Kathleen Jagger and student Elginique Dames.
The Newman community wishes you and your family a Christmas filled with blessings and joy. Christ is born!
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.