03 Dec – Feast of St. Francis Xavier, presbyter, religious, missionary
St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) was a nobleman from the Basque region. He studied and taught philosophy at the University of Paris, and planned a career as a professor. Then he became a friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola who convinced him to use his talents to spread the Gospel. Francis became one of the founding Jesuits, and the first Jesuit missionary. He was also a priest.
In Goa, while waiting to take a ship to India, he preached in the sick, worked with the sick, and taught children their catechism. He would walk through the streets ringing a bell to call the children to their studies. He was said to have converted the entire city.
He scolded his patron, King John of Portugal, over the slave trade: “You have no right to spread the Catholic faith while you take away all the country’s riches. It upsets me to know that at the hour of your death, you may be ordered our of paradise.”
Francis was tremendously successful as a missionary for ten years in India, the East Indies, and Japan, baptizing more than 40,000. His epic finds him dining with head hunters, washing sores of lepers in Venice, teaching catechism to Indian children, baptizing 10,000 in a single month. He tolerated the most appalling conditions on long sea voyages, enduring extremes of heat and cold. Wherever he went he would seek out and help the poor and forgotten. He travelled thousands of miles, most on his bare feet, and he saw the greater part of the Far East. He had the gift of tongues, was a miracle worker, raised people from the dead, calmed storms, and was a prophet and healer.
– Patron Saint Index
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
I do not boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty which has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it! If I had chosen this work myself, I might have been paid for it, but as I have not, it is a responsibility which has been put into my hands. Do you know what my reward is? It is this: in y preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free, and not insist on the rights which the Gospel gives me.
So though I am not a slave of any man I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. for the weak I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some at any cost; and I still do this, for the sake of the Gospel, to have a share in its blessings.
Jesus showed himself to the Eleven, and he said to them, “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongue; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.”
And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven: there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.
Over the past weekend, I attended the Christ@Work 2007 Conference. The keynote speaker was Bo Sanchez, a famous Filipino speaker. As I watched him preach that Saturday morning, I thought to myself, “Wow! This guy can really speak and move audiences! Imagine how much money he would make as an entertainer! But here he is speaking at a Catholic conference instead.”
One of the things that Bo said that morning was a reminder for me that the will of God is not something that He forces on us. Rather, God gives us the desire to do His will. Bo spoke of something called “the flow”, which is when working becomes a passion, rather than a chore. As he said that in reference to his writing (Bo is a writer as well as a preacher), his words resonated in me, because I knew exactly what he was talking about, as I too am a writer.
It is when you can get so absorbed in “the flow” and forget about everything else… and still come out of several hours’ of deep concentration feeling more alive than ever. That’s the flow. That is what happens when our work we do coincides with our gifts.
All of us have certain gifts that God has granted us, and God wants us to use those gifts to spread the Good News. It is not a chore because when we use those gifts, we feel more alive than ever. We are truly working for the Lord in the sense that the Church defines work: cooperating with God in his work of creation.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have a job that coincides with our gifts. Some of us work to put food on the table, but to those who work solely for the pay they receive, condolences to those people, because there is so much more that work has the potential to be.
We do not have to become like St. Francis Xavier to be a missionary, spreading the Good News to strangers. We can spread the Good News right where we are. I don’t mean that we start preaching from the Bible to our colleagues. Rather, we preach through our actions, our service, our kindness and compassion. We preach the Good News when we refrain from participating in immoral behaviour among friends. We preach the Good News when we give our very best at work. We preach the Good News when we speak politely and respectfully to our fellow workers and our bosses. We preach the Good News when we love our neighbour.
For those of us who are fortunate enough to have a job that coincides with our gifts, let us continue to use our gifts to their fullest to spread the Good News to all the world and to cooperate with God in His work of creation, and bringing new life to ourselves and to those around us.
Dear Lord, help us to make You present in our work, and share the Good News to all of creation. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: The many reminders of Your love that You’ve given me throughout the weekend.
Tue, 04 Dec – Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 10:21-24; Memorial for St. Damascus, presbyter, religious
Wed, 05 Dec – Isaiah 25:6-10a; Matthew 15:29-37
Thu, 06 Dec – Isaiah 26:1-6; Mathew 7:21, 24-31; Memorial for St. Nicholas, bishop
Fri, 07 Dec – Isaiah 29:17-24; Matthew 9:27-31; Memorial for St. Ambrose, bishop, doctor of the Church
Sat, 08 Dec – Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38; Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
Sun, 09 Dec – Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12; Second Sunday of Advent
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