Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the feast of a truly great and renowned saint, of whom many of our brethren around the world, particularly in Asia and in the Pacific region owed their faith to in the beginning, when the Church and the Faith first reached those regions of the world and was able to anchor themselves until today as flourishing communities of the faithful as we witness today.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Francis Xavier, or Franciscus Xaverius, a Spanish Jesuit priest and great missionary, whose missionary works caused a great flowering of the cause of the Faith in the East Indies, in countries now encompassing India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Macau, Hong Kong, China, and also Japan. It is also likely that his works had also had even wider contributions to the whole Universal Church both in the mission areas and at home, in the heart of Christendom.
For St. Francis Xavier lived during a very difficult time for the Faith and the Church of God. This is because at that time, the very heart of Christendom were besieged both inside and outside by its enemies, both heretics, heathens, pagans and other enemies of God and His Church alike. The Islamic Ottoman Turks were on the rise and they had conquered many nations, and after vanquishing and subjugating Christian nations one after another, it seemed that they were poised to strike at the remaining nations faithful to the Lord.
Meanwhile, the so-called false Protestant ‘reformation’ was on the rage in most of Europe at the time, with many people, rulers and even clergy alike were swayed by the lies of the devil and by the greed of men, in following their own hearts’ desire and following false doctrines, forsaking the truth and the wholeness of the teachings of Christ as espoused and kept by the Church of God. Princes and peoples alike rebelled and broke free from the Church of God, destroying the unity of the Church.
Wars were fought in many places for the sake of the souls of the faithful. Many were lost to the Lord, but many also were called back to the Faith and repented their sins and rebellions. But at a time when external threats to the Faith were mounting as mentioned earlier, the Church and the faithful were not in good position to deal with all of them at once.
This is not to mention that within the Church itself there were many corruption and wickedness, with simony and even sexual impropriety all over the places. Buying of positions and honours were abound, nepotism and collusion were commonplace. And these further caused troubles to the already beleaguered Faith, Church and the faithful of God. This was why, there were a new movement then within the Church aiming for a great reform and purification of the Faith, which led to the great Council of Trent and Counter-Reformation, to reclaim the souls of many from heresy.
The Society of Jesus founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola, together with many others of his comrades, St. Peter Canisius and including St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of Missions whose feast we are celebrating today, they were pivotal in the efforts of Counter-Reformation, to reclaim for the Lord His people who have been lost to the darkness of the world and all those who had been lost to heresy of men.
Many of these brave missionaries and servants of God preached throughout Christendom calling them to repent from their sins and return to the Faith in the Holy Mother Church. While many resisted and persecuted the missionaries, there were also many who were moved by the preachings and they returned to the one and true Faith. But at the same time, there were challenges and opportunities beyond what had been mentioned here.
For at that time, advances in technology allowed the people of God for the very first time, to explore the entirety of the world. New worlds and places were discovered and this represented a great opportunity for the evangelisation of the Faith as it could not have been done before. St. Francis Xavier was sent as part of the evangelisation effort, to spearhead the Faith’s effort to bring the Good News to many of those who have yet to hear it before, bringing the Light to a people still living in darkness.
All these are linked to the readings of this day we heard from the Holy Scriptures, all of which talked about one thing, that is evangelisation and the spreading of the Good News to all of the world. That was the last and ongoing mission given by the Lord Jesus to all of His Apostles and disciples after His resurrection and just before He ascended to heaven, as we heard in the Gospel today.
Jesus told His disciples to bring forth the Good News and preach it to the entire world, to the whole mankind, so that all peoples may hear and witness the truth of God’s love and salvation, and thus be stirred from their slumber, to be awakened to walk and seek the Lord’s saving grace. This is a mission which He charged the Church with, and thus the mission which the Lord entrusted to all of us His faithful ones.
And the actions of the Jesuits in the traditional home of Christendom in Europe, wrecked by the Protestant ‘reformation’ and heresy, represented also a kind of evangelisation and spreading the Good News. They worked hard to dispel the lies of the devil and the falsehoods spread by the wicked agents of the evil one, and instead preaching and teaching the truth of Christ which the Church had kept faithfully since the very beginning.
What St. Francis Xavier and his fellow missionaries had done, then also expand the works of evangelisation even further, carrying out the mission of our Lord Jesus as He had entrusted to His disciples. Yes, which is to spread the Good News to all the nations and to baptise many nations and peoples in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, which was exactly what St. Francis Xavier had laboured hard for.
St. Francis Xavier travelled from countries to countries and from places to places, spreading the Faith wherever he went. He baptised many of the local communities and populace whom he encountered along his missionary journeys, and gained for the Lord many more souls he had helped brought to salvation. He preached the Lord’s Good News wherever he went, and he also helped to build up the Church in various places in Asia, at Goa in India, Malacca in the Malay Archipelago, Macau in China, and Nagasaki in Japan.
He faced and encountered many difficulties and challenges along the way, and yet he persevered. He performed many miracles and wonders throughout his missionary journeys, and he also even calmed a terrible storm which threatened to sink his boat while he was sailing to a place he was to preach the Good News at. He healed many of the sick and cast out demons.
Yes, brethren, was this not what our Lord Jesus had told His disciples too in the Gospel today? Those whom He had sent to preach His Good News and those who had devoted themselves and their lives in the service of God and His Gospel, He will not leave alone, but He will grant them His blessings and power to carry out their mission successfully.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this holy occasion of the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of Missions, let us all learn from what I have shared with you, of the courage of the missionaries and the servants of God in preaching the Good News of the Gospel to the nations, not only to those who had erred in their ways and walked away from the truth, but also to those who have not yet heard a single word of the Good News of Christ.
But it does not mean that their works ended just there, brothers and sisters in Christ. The mission which Jesus entrusted His disciples continues even today, and we are all, brothers and sisters in Christ, all the faithful ones of God are also tasked and entrusted with the same mission, to preach and spread the Good News of God’s salvation to all the nations and to all the peoples.
Therefore, let us all pray to the Lord, that in our hearts, the courage and desire we should have to preach His words and truth may be awakened and strengthened in us, so that we may also live faithfully and truly live out our faith with real action and real devotion, by loving one another as our Lord had loved us, and show love to all those around us who need them. Let us all follow and walk in the footsteps of St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint of missions! God bless us all. Amen.
First Reading :
Gospel Reading :