Each week during Advent, Emmanuel’s Office of Mission & Ministry invites a member of the College community to share a reflection. Reflections will be shared here every Sunday throughout Advent.
Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent | December 24, 2023
Making a Home for God
The season of Advent is a special time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is a time of anticipation, hope, and joy. The readings for today, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, invite us to make space to welcome God into our lives.
The Old Testament reading recounts an episode in which King David recognizes that although he lives in a house, safe from his enemies, the Ark of God continues to dwell in a tent. This epiphany leads King David to see clearly that God seeks, and should have, a permanent dwelling place among God’s people. God speaks through Nathan to share that God has and will continue to look over King David and his family to keep them safe as King David opens himself to welcoming God.
The second reading (Rom 16: 25-27) and the Gospel (Lk 1:26-37) speak to the marvelous effects of saying yes to God. Mary offers a powerful example of commitment to faith by welcoming God’s will and conceiving Jesus, the Son of God. Mary’s response to the angel ― “May it be done to me according to your word” ― makes clear Mary’s willingness to open her life to God’s presence and to become God’s temple. In fact, in the Catholic tradition, Mary is also referred to as the New Ark of the Covenant. Great solace can be found in the Catholic popular prayer, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” Indeed, Emmanuel is God with us.
I hope that during this Advent season, and each day, you find comfort and solace in your faith and in God’s guidance. May this time of celebration also be a time to discover the signs of God’s presence around us.
Dean of Nursing
Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent | December 3, 2023
Watch, Wait, and Trust
Advent is a season of watchfulness, calling us to be alert and ready for the coming of Christ. In today’s Gospel, Jesus implores his disciples and, by extension, all of us to embrace a spirit of watchfulness and alertness. There is a sense of urgency in Jesus’ words: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” The parable of the man traveling abroad and the gatekeeper serves as a metaphor for the need to remain vigilant and ready for Christ.
What does it mean to remain vigilant and to watch for the Lord in our lives? Perhaps it means to be mindful of the many opportunities we have to practice patience and attentiveness. We live in a world that is often busy and noisy, that demands our attention and distracts us from what is essential. We face many challenges and difficulties that test our faith and our endurance. We need to slow down and quiet down, listen and pray, reflect and discern. We need to wait and trust, and learn and grow.
God comes to us in so many ways: in scripture, in events, in people, in joys, in sadness, in surprises, and in the ordinary. God comes to us to save us, to heal us, to transform us, to make us beacons of goodness and light.
This Advent, I invite all of us to pray in a special way for those who have been affected by the recent senseless acts of violence we have witnessed in our country and in our world. Further, “as we wait in joyful hope,” we pray for a just and lasting peace for all who are suffering under the affliction of war and atrocity.
May Advent be a time of grace and growth for us, a time of watchfulness and alertness, and a time of hope and joy. Let us pray we are ready to welcome the Lord and to celebrate with love and faith.
Dr. Beth Ross
Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent | December 10, 2023
Practicing Patience and Giving Grace
In today’s reading from the Old Testament (Is 40:1-5, 9-11), Isaiah asks the people to find comfort in the promise of God. The people are experiencing struggles and challenges that lead to hopelessness. In the face of this adversity, Isaiah says: Take heart! For the Messiah is coming.
As a community, and as individuals, we have endured and will continue to encounter struggles and challenges. What must we do to overcome them? In today’s second reading (2Pt 3:8-14), St. Peter encourages us to begin by embracing a spirit of patience and peace.
During this Advent season, I want to encourage us in a special way to show grace to ourselves and to one another. Patience, kindness, and forgiveness—these characteristics speak of acceptance and charity, and we should not underestimate their power. When practicing patience, one channels the force of the challenge in a positive way, learning from it in order to be better and do better. Similarly, kindness should not be contained within our community, but instead used to sustain our call to social justice in the world.
In our communities, especially Emmanuel, our success is based on the strength of our relationships. Consider relationships that we have made and hold dear; they were not made instantly but built over time. Time also allows our connections with one another to evolve, renew, and flourish. We are called to engage in this process with an open heart. Nothing in this world is made to stay the same; instead, we are called to let go, embrace change, and allow time to reveal God’s loving plan for our lives. “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Eccles 3:1)
Time is precious. Be generous with it—to yourself and to others—throughout this Christmas season and always.
Associate Dean of Student Learning and Success
Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent | December 17, 2023
The Joys of God’s Love
“Rejoice always.” This is the main message in the readings of today. As Saint Paul writes in his letter to the Thessalonians, we should prepare the way for the Lord’s coming. We ought to look upon the generous gifts given to us by God and the graces He bestows upon us and accept them and embrace them willingly.
Our God, being a good and holy God, has chosen us, and chooses to love us even before we can accept or choose Him. This is an ultimate and selfless love and is proclaimed in today’s reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah, which illustrates all the wonders that God will do for His people. As we read, He sets the captives free, He brings glad tidings to the poor, and He heals the brokenhearted. Life is certain to bring about many different modes of suffering and sorrow, but Christ is here and has come to liberate us from these fallen and desolate ways.
Because our Lord has lovingly chosen to lift us up from the sorrows of the world, we should be joyful and accepting of His loving embrace. Moreover, we should ask God to show us how we can uniquely participate in His loving plan for humanity. When we choose to stand on the side of the poor, when we choose to comfort the brokenhearted, when we are good to those around us and lift them up, we reflect God's love upon the world. We, as God’s children, can choose to be sources of love and joy for the world through how we live our lives. The love and works of God are not limited solely to miracles, for He can also use human beings as tools to enact justice, charity, love, and joy throughout the world.
“Oh, God, to know You is life. To serve You is freedom. To praise You is the soul's joy and delight. Guard me with the power of your grace here and in all places. Now and at all times, forever. Amen”
Class of 2026