Dec 3 – Feast of St. Francis Xavier, presbyter, religious, missionary (Principal Patron of Foreign Missions)
Francis (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. He was a friend of St. Ignatius of Loyola who convinced him to use his talents to spread the Gospel. He was one of the founding Jesuits, and the first Jesuit missionary.
In Goa, India, while waiting to take the ship, he preached in the street, 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 out of paradise.”
He was a tremendously successful missionary for the ten years he was in India, the East Indies, and Japan, baptizing more than 40,000 converts. His epic finds him dining with head hunters, washing the 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, and was a miracle worker. He raised people from the dead, calmed storms. He was a prophet and a healer.
Patron Saint Index
A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
a scion thrusts from his roots:
on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless,
his sentences bring death to the wicked.
Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.
The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion feed together,
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.
That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations
and its home will be glorious.
Filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’
I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children
Several times in the Bible, it is said that God has revealed his messages to simple people – fishermen, shepherds, children, etc. So what could God’s message be that he chose to reveal it to simple people?
I remember a story about my two cousins back when they were way younger. They were almost of the same age, maybe about five back then. As boys, they would get into fights among themselves and it could get physical. The younger one was just punching the older one and when my brothers managed to break up the fight, they asked why the older one didn’t fight back. His reply was simple, ‘It’s because he’s my younger cousin.’ To him, it was as clear as day. The older one doesn’t hit the younger one.
As we grow older, we see that things are not so straightforward in this world. We get introduced to hidden agendas, people acting to protect themselves, and people not trusting other people. So we measure our responses, ponder over our decisions, and test waters.
But with God, it’s really that simple.
God is love. God loves us. God desires our good. God allows things to happen in our lives so that we could spend eternity with Him in heaven.
But just because it is simple, it doesn’t mean it is easy.
Think of how much resources a company spends over simplification. Think of how much time is spent editing articles to make them simple. Think of how much ad companies are paid just to come up with an ad that is simple. It is difficult to simplify. It is difficult to do what is simple.
There may be different reasons for each one of us why we find it difficult to simplify our lives. In this period of Advent, maybe we could ask God to teach us how to become simple. I truly believe that once we’ve learnt to be simple, we would be able to hear God better.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dearest Lord God, please help me be comfortable in simplicity. Please show the areas of my life where things can be simplified.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of children who remind us what it means to be simple.