Liturgical Colour : White (Priests)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate mission, the work of the servants of God, following what the Lord has commissioned His disciples to do. The Lord has commanded His disciples to spread all over the earth, and spread the Good News, the Good News of Jesus, which come with the Lord Himself as He came incarnate into Man.
The disciples went around many places, telling many people about the Saviour who had come to save them all. The Lord commissioned them to make disciples of all the nations, and baptise them, to mark them in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, the Most holy God. Only those who have been marked with such sign of baptism will belong to God and be saved.
The disciples of the Lord laboured hard for the conversion and therefore the salvation of many, sharing with them the words and the revelations that they had received from the Lord as witnesses of the Good News. The disciples worked hard and served the people of God without cease and without fear, and they even went through great suffering, persecution, and rejection, eventually suffering death, in the defense of their faith.
Their works did not end there, since the disciples of the Lord appointed their successors, chosen from the people of God, the bishops and the priests, and the countless others who have helped to spread the Good News to the people over many millenia. They persevered for the Lord, accepted in some places but rejected in others. Tortured for their faith but did not recant, and remained faithful even to the end, as the Apostles had done themselves.
These are the realities about the missionaries, who continued the mission given to them by the Lord. They persevered through similar difficulties and challenges as the Apostles and the other disciples of Christ had faced in the past. Even today, thousands and tens of thousands of missionaries spread around the globe toil daily for the salvation of souls.
These missionaries spread the Good News and become its witnesses, by serving the poor, spending time with the lonely and the unloved, as well as reaching out to those who had yet to receive the word of God, and knock at the hearts of those who had turned away from the Lord. Their task is not an easy one, and yet they persevered through, out of their love for the Lord and His people.
Today, we ought to pray for them and give thanks to God for these wonderful missionaries, for the gift of their courage and persistence in the service of God. We celebrate today the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missions and missionaries. He was once a great missionary himself, travelling to many countries especially in East and Southeast Asia regions, establishing the foundation for many future missionaries that would follow him.
St. Francis Xavier was the co-founder of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, today the largest religious congregation in the world, he founded it with St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order. He was once a man who dedicated his life to pleasures of the world and other debaucheries, and yet, after an encounter with St. Ignatius, he found his life’s meaning in Jesus, seeking to serve Him with zeal.
St. Francis Xavier is particularly interested in spreading the word of God and the news of salvation to far off lands, and to the lands of pagans. At that time, the new discoveries of the wider world beyond the world the people had once known, opened massive opportunity for evangelisation and conversion of many to the true faith. Many people and cultures whom the faith had not touched before, then had the opportunity through the wider exploration of the world. Following along these explorations were the missionaries, many of them Jesuits, including St. Francis Xavier himself.
St. Francis Xavier went as a missionary, firstly to India, where he accomplished much in establishing the works of God in that land, converting many to the faith in God. Then he went on to spread the Good News to many lands, all over the Far East, establishing communities of the faithful and sending missionaries to these lands. He himself led the effort as a vanguard for the faith.
St. Francis Xavier followed in the footsteps of the Apostles and laboured through rejections and even storms at sea to spread the Good News to many souls which he laboured to save. St. Francis Xavier persevered through all of them and went on undeterred to save even more souls. He travelled far to Malacca, to the islands of the Moluccas, to Macau, and even to Japan. He did not get as much success as the works he had done in India, because of oppositions from local rulers, but nevertheless he continued his works.
It was St. Francis Xavier’s dream to be able to preach and spread the Good News in China. But before he managed to do that, he passed away along the way. He had indeed passed before us, but until today, his spirit, the spirit of zealous and courageous missionary, never died, and continues to burn in the many missionaries that followed after St. Francis Xavier.
Therefore, brethren, today, let us commemorate our missionaries, past and present. Do not forget to pray for them, that they will continue to persevere in the mission they had embarked on. Let us pray that God will continue to guide them, watch over them, and empower them. And finally, we too, brothers and sisters in Christ, we too are called to be missionaries. The mission that Jesus had given to His disciples also applies to us.
We do not have to make difficult journeys and hard works in the way the missionaries had done. We can do things even as simple as making our own homes, our own families, and our own societies, the people around us, to make. God the centre of our own lives, and through our own actions, words, and deeds, we too can be missionaries, the living witnesses of the faith in God.
May the Lord continue to bless us, empower us, and strengthen us with a burning zeal, in order to continue to proclaim Him in the world, to be witnesses of God’s Good News to the world. Amen.