On this day, we recall and revere St. Francis Xavier
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier (December 3, 2022): IS 30:19-21,23-26; PS 147:1-2,3-4,5-6; MT 9:35-10:1,5,6-8
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
He was the great 16th-century Jesuit missionary who brought Christ to thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children in Asia.
St. Francis Xavier is honored as the Church’s greatest missionary after St. Paul. As we consider his life, let us focus first on today’s Gospel: “At the sight of the crowds, (Jesus’) heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest’” (Matthew 9:36-38). Born in 1506 at the family castle in Navarre, Spain, Francis was well educated there before being sent to Paris to finish his studies. While attending the university he met St. Ignatius of Loyola and the two became fast friends. Ignatius encouraged the younger man to become one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus that he was establishing. After taking vows, including a special one of allegiance to the pope, and their priestly ordinations, the Jesuits began to preach and care for the sick. Eventually, Francis set out from Lisbon, Portugal, to begin his life as a missionary. He arrived in Goa, India, in 1542, and before going to the islands of Malaysia about three years later, and from there to Japan. He converted great numbers of people during this time. He also saw to it that other missionaries would follow him so that the new Christians could grow in the faith of Christ. St. Francis Xavier was recognized for his simple life and his zeal for sharing the Gospel. He also had deep respect for the people and cultures of the places he journeyed. Although he planned to go to China, he died of fever at the age of 46 without ever reaching there. He was canonized in 1622. Today, along with St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower, he is the patron of missions.
St. Francis Xavier understood that the success of human effort is in God’s hands. It is for us to serve Him with our whole heart and soul. Francis said, “Love is what gives value to all our works; it’s not thanks to the greatness and multitude of our works that we please God, but thanks to the love with which we do them.”
Suggested missionary action: Let us ask St. Francis Xavier to help the Church’s missionaries and those they serve. We can make our own contribution by sharing the Gospel through our example and by supporting the vital efforts of the Pontifical Mission Society.