Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for December 1, 2013

• Isaiah 2:1-5 • Romans 13:11-14 • Matthew 24:37-44 • 1 Advent A ’14 •

 Scripture Readings: First Sunday of Advent – Lectionary: 1

Print PDF: Weekly Homily 12.01.2013

I am Malala!” I presume you heard or read about the 16 year-old Pakistani girl whose malalaname is Malala. I set her before us as our Advent guide this year.

In winter darkness the voices of Isaiah and Jesus call us into this season of Advent. They speak visions; good words; and we listen to them. We light our Advent candles remembering the one we name the light of the world has charged us with the responsibility of bearing his light to others.

Isaiah spoke a vision of peace.
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”
His words, prominently displayed at the United Nations, capture our aspirations and our longing for that day when resources devoted to the destruction of lives and property will be spent on education, agriculture and health care! I have no illusion. No nation on Earth is willing to do that!

Jesus of Nazareth spoke a vision of peace. He was the first among us to be fully alive and fully human. In his life and in confronting his violent death, he demonstrated the basic ingredient of peace – unconditional love. I have no illusion. No nation on Earth will risk such love.

Centuries have past since Matthew attributed three short parables to Jesus: about Noah, two pair of workers, and a thief in the night. Matthew used these parables to admonish his peers to “keep awake,” “be alert,” “be vigilant.” He knew that if the Christ fire in them went out, they would forget God’s presence among and love for them. Then they would ignore the cries of those who suffer.

That fire has not gone out. Malala — that young Islamic girl, identifies with “the Jesus vision” of a new and more human life for all. She reminds us of who and what we are; that God lives in us, loves us, and empowers us to be Christ for others. I see Malala as our Advent guide!

She speaks several languages fluently. She upset the Taliban when she became an advocate for the education of girls in Pakistan. They sought to silence her with death threats. Eventually a single Taliban boarded a school bus and at close range shot Malala in the head. She survived with damage to her facial nerves and her left eardrum destroyed. She was transported to London where medical professionals restored her hearing. Her smile has returned but she still faces additional surgery. None of this daunted her spirit. Ignoring additional death threats, she stood before the UN General Assembly appealing for the education of all girls and boys.

In this young Pakistani girl we see goodness, nobility and courage. She dared to be different and refused to identify with the inhumane side of the dominant culture in which she lives. She paid a price for her resistance and rebellion but she remains determined. She is a reminder. All of us are able to be more human and to build more dignity into society. Her strength and courage inspire me and thousands more to proclaim — “I am Malala!” Clearly God’s Spirit is still acting in history.

Nations are not about to turn swords into ploughshares or risk the unconditional love of Christ. So we face a great risk. Settled comfortably in our beliefs, religious traditions and customs, we can drift off to sleep as I do in the evening when I sit to read or watch TV — “keep awake!” Our abundance and well-being “can lead to personal atrophy, spiritual lethargy and a loss of vitality” –“be alert!” Our lives can become superficial and boring — “be vigilant.”

Malala is our Advent guide. With her we can turn our faces toward a better, more human world. With her we can can awaken and turn our own dominant culture in a new direction. Dare to be different! Don’t act like everyone else does! Rebel against and reject the superficial. How? Like Malala, you know how! Peace will prevail as more and more and more of us become “Malala.” Learn from her! In winter darkness Advent calls us to be Christ, and to transform the world!

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