Thursday, First Week of Advent
Solemnity of St. Francis Xavier, Patron of India and the Missions
Jer 1:4-9; Ps 71:1-2,56,8-9,14-15; 2Cor 4:7-15; Lk 10:1-16
CAN GOD WORK THROUGH ME?
We can never tell what good we can do when we allow God to work through us. Just as when we throw a pebble into a pond and the ripples go out and touch places around the edge of the pond that we cannot see, so also when we permit God to work through us there is no way we can see all the good that we do for others.
God can intervene in our lives in unexpected ways, and change things around. Still in his twenties, young Francis Xavier, whose father had been president of the King’s Council in his part of Spain, was one of the popular figures in the University of Paris in his time. Intelligent, good-looking, and a sportsman, he had a wonderful personality as well. Francis Xavier found that he was sharing his university accommodation with a young priest Peter Favre and a middle-aged former soldier who had a permanent limp because of a battle wound. This man was Ignatius of Loyola, and these three university students would one day form themselves into the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). After his battle wounds, Ignatius convalesce for a long time; he began to read the Gospels, and the power of the personality of the Lord began to influence him. He asked himself three short questions which required big answers:
1. What have I done for Christ? 2. What am I doing for Christ? 3. What ought I to do for Christ?
Answering these questions helped change his life, and he put the same questions to the very worldly and ambitious young Francis Xavier. “What does it profit you, Francis, to gain the whole world if you lose your soul?” Eventually these questions had their impact on Francis and he became one of the greatest missionary saints of the Church. He came to be known as the Apostle to the Indies, meaning India and South East Asia, and the Church declared him the patron saint of Missionaries, the men and women who leave their own lands to spread the good news about Christ to other peoples.
What does Francis Xavier say to us as we celebrate his feast today? Never underestimate what God can do through us if we open ourselves to Christ’s love. Never underestimate the power for good that we can do. Unexpected events in life can be God’s way of turning us into directions of great help for others. Back in those University of Paris days, when Ignatius kept prodding Francis with the question, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” and unsettling him, Xavier replied that he was too ambitious to follow Christ as a priest or religious. Ignatius replied that perhaps he was not ambitious enough. Was his ambition able to go beyond himself and to include the world and its peoples, and what God might have in mind for them?
Big-hearted questions produce big answers, answers that change our lives. People pray for special graces in the presence of a holy saint. People go on pilgrimages for graces when there is something special that they want. Let us today, as we celebrate the feast of St Francis Xavier, pray for four graces:
1. That we might have the desire and strength to share our faith with others. Xavier gave his life and went across the world to do so; perhaps we can do that sharing when we go to our workplace or neighbourhood. 2. That we might be on fire with the love of Christ who showed us what true love is, and that this fire might urge us on to follow him more closely and live his love. 3. That we might see the workings of God in all peoples of the world amidst all cultures. 4. That we might dream big dreams of what we might do with our life as a person loved and saved by Christ.
May St Francis Xavier intercede for us that we may respond in our own way to that same love which set him on fire.
Responsorial Psalm: My mouth will tell of your justice.
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