Tuesday, 3 December 2019 : 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 together the memory of a great saint and servant of God, who is also commemorated as the Patron of all missions and missionaries, recalling the great contributions that this holy man had given throughout his many years of ministry to the far-off lands and regions, travelling from places to places bringing the Good News of the Gospel to those who have not yet heard or known of God.

St. Francis Xavier was a Spanish Jesuit who was also one of the founding and original members of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit Order. He was remembered for his great missionary efforts and travels throughout many regions of Asia and the far eastern regions of Asia, from India to Southeast Asia and then even as far as Japan and many other parts of those areas, spreading the words of God to the people there.

At that time, Christendom was faced with many challenges both from the inside and from the outside, as the era of the Protestant reformation came about, causing many of the people of God to be splintered away and separated from the Holy Mother Church into the various heresies and false teachings, while the rise of the power of the Ottoman Turks threatened many parts of the Christian world from the outside.

The Society of Jesus was then founded at that time by St. Ignatius of Loyola, a courageous servant of God who gathered like minded to serve the Lord for His greater glory as is in their motto, ‘Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam’ or ‘For the Greater Glory of God’. Many people came to join the Jesuit order in the vigorous effort and campaign by the Church to stem the tide of the Protestant reformation and also to reinvigorate the faith among the people of God.

St. Francis Xavier was one of those whom St. Ignatius of Loyola gathered, and while quite a few of the Jesuits worked hard within the old Christian world, spreading the true faith to the people who have been swayed by false and erroneous teachings, there were many others led by St. Francis Xavier who ventured forth to distant lands that at that time were just recently discovered.

St. Francis Xavier represented the efforts of the Church to embrace those who have not yet heard of God’s salvation and truth, just as the Lord Himself had commanded His Apostles and disciples to do, as part of the Great Commission which He has entrusted to all of them. The Great Commission was a sending off from the Lord as He asked all of them to go forth to the many nations to bring God’s truth to them and to make them God’s own beloved people through baptism.

To that extent, St. Francis Xavier dedicated his whole life to missionary works, travelling far and wide at a time when travel was still hazardous and taking many months just to cross the oceans to reach the destinations. St. Francis Xavier thus travelled far from Europe, first of all to Goa in India, before travelling to Malacca and to the other parts of the Southeast Asian archipelago, laying the foundations of the Church and the faith among the many communities he visited, braving through even many storms and difficulties.

St. Francis Xavier also travelled to Macau and Japan, establishing the grounds for the faith and the Church in the latter and visiting the growing populations of Catholics elsewhere, going back and forth between India and the Far East throughout his many evangelising missions, and passed away just before he was about to enter China to evangelise there. His mortal remains and relics are now preserved in the Basilica of the Bom Jesus in Goa, India, where the faithful from all over Christendom often come to venerate this faithful and holy man of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having gone through in quite a great detail on the life and works of St. Francis Xavier, all of us are also therefore called to reflect on his many contributions and efforts, his tireless attempts and outreach to bring the Good News to the reach of many of those who had not had the opportunity to listen to the truth of God, much as how the Apostles in the earliest days of the Church travelled to many places sowing the seeds of faith.

This is a reminder for us that the works of the Church and the Apostles were far from being completed, and rather, many of our predecessors throughout the years and many generations who had endeavoured and worked hard to continue the good works that the Lord had begun in His Church. St. Francis Xavier did just that, and showed us just what we should do with our lives in being wonderful witnesses of the Lord’s truth just as St. Francis Xavier himself had done.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore today we remember all those who have devoted their lives to the service of the Lord as missionaries, following in the direct footsteps of the Holy Apostles and the saints, like that of St. Francis Xavier, who is their patron. We have to pray for them and ask that the Lord will strengthen them and give them the courage and the ability to persevere through challenges and difficulties they may have to endure during their journey.

But at the same time, all of us as Christians are also then reminded of our own obligation and calling to be missionaries of the Lord, as each and every one of us as the members of God’s Holy Church are also part of the Lord’s Great Commission. We do not have to aim for great things or to think that we need to perform extraordinary deeds or laboured in the way that our holy predecessors like the Apostles and St. Francis Xavier had done.

Instead, what we need to do is to do our best in our each and every actions, in each and our every interactions in our daily living so that by our actions, words and deeds we become genuine and true witnesses of the Lord’s truth and salvation in wherever we are living, in our families and communities. Through this we can become missionaries of the Lord in our own way, working for the greater glory of God and making use of whatever goods and talents that God has blessed us with.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore renew in us the faith which we have in the Lord and renew the zeal and love, the dedication and commitment we have towards Him, as we are shown the inspiring examples of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of mission and all missionaries. Let us all bear courageously and truthfully our faith in God in all things. May the Lord be with us all, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1-2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 9 : 16-19, 22-23

Because I cannot boast of announcing the Gospel : I am bound to do it. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! If I preached voluntarily, I could expect my reward, but I have been trusted this office against my will. How can I, then, deserve a reward? In announcing the Gospel, I will do it freely without making use of the rights given to me by the Gospel.

So, feeling free with everybody, I have become everybody’s slave in order to gain a greater number. To the weak I made myself weak, to win the weak. So I made myself all things to all people in order to save, by all possible means, some of them. This I do for the Gospel, so that I too have a share of it.

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.

Monday, 3 December 2018 : Feast of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of Missions (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 16 : 15-20

At that time, Jesus told His disciples, “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation. The one who believes and is baptised will be saved; the one who refuses to believe will be condemned.”

“Signs like these will accompany those who have believed : in My Name they will cast out demons and speak new languages; they will pick up snakes, and if they drink anything poisonous, they will be unharmed; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

So then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His place at the right hand of God. The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

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

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 116 : 1-2

Alleluia! Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you peoples, praise Him.

How great is His love for us! His faithfulness lasts forever.