Monday, 3 December 2018 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron saint of missions, as he was remembered by his extensive and tireless labours in evangelisation and missionary activities in Asia and the Far East for many years. St. Francis Xavier was remembered for his important role in establishing and consolidating the scattered Christian communities in places ranging from India, to Southeast Asia, and to China and Japan.

St. Francis Xavier was one of the founding members of the Jesuit religious order, also known as the Society of Jesus. At that time, during the tumultuous and difficult years of the internal and external threats to the Church and Christendom, St. Ignatius of Loyola gathered like-minded men and the faithful who wanted to serve God and advance His cause, and therefore, the foundation of the Society of Jesus was made. St. Francis Xavier was one of those whom St. Ignatius of Loyola called.

St. Francis Xavier met St. Ignatius of Loyola and the other founding members of the Jesuits as he was pursuing his studies, and initially, St. Francis Xavier resisted the call to be a priest and to serve the Lord, as St. Ignatius suggested. But through the patience and hard work of St. Ignatius, eventually St. Francis Xavier was convinced to accept God’s call and he eventually founded the Jesuits with St. Ignatius of Loyola and became a priest.

And when the Jesuits were busy dealing with the troubles of the period of the ‘Reformation’ in Europe, there was also a great need for missionaries to go to the many areas which Christian explorers and traders had gone to, in India, in Southeast Asia, China, Japan and many other parts of the world, where the Lord was still unknown, the Gospels unproclaimed and the prospects for the salvation of souls were great.

And thus, by chance, St. Francis Xavier was tasked with some of his fellow Jesuits, to be the missionaries in charge of those regions, and this task was carried out with great obedience and humility by St. Francis Xavier, who dedicated the rest of his life to great missionary works in various places across Asia. He visited India a few times, and went to various parts of Southeast Asia including Malacca and the Moluccas islands, to Macau and also to Japan.

Through all of his hard work, there were indeed many challenges, as sea travel at that time was hazardous, and took many months to reach a particular destination. There were also oppositions to the works of the missionaries, and the lives of the missionaries, including that of St. Francis Xavier, were always in constant danger and uncertainty. But regardless, St. Francis Xavier continued to push on with his mission.

Through his effort and hard work, many Christian communities across Asia today can be traced to the foundational works that he and his fellow missionaries had done. They all persevered through years of hardships and troubles, enduring harsh livelihood and oppositions, for the sake of the people of God and for the salvation of souls. Not few of them were martyred for their faith. St. Francis Xavier himself died on an island while waiting for the opportunity to enter China and evangelise there.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us are called to reflect on the lives and the courage with the missionaries of the Lord, particularly that of St. Francis Xavier, in how they have modelled for us the way for us to live as a Christian, to be true and devout witnesses of our faith by our constant living of a Christian way of life, that in our every words, actions and deeds, we always proclaim the greater glory of God, and others who see us, may come to believe in God as well.

Let us all today be inspired by the efforts shown by those missionaries who have given their all in serving the Lord, and also ask ourselves, what each and every one of us can also do in our own lives in order to serve the Lord to the best of our abilities. May we find in us the strength and the courage to live ever more faithfully and ever more committed to God, each and every days of our life. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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