A Life of Hope: St. Francis Xavier ~ Br. Matt Pepple, Postulant
St. Francis Xavier was born in the family castle of Xavier, in Pamplona in the Basque area of Spanish Navarre in 1506. He was sent to the University of Paris in 1525 and obtained his licentiate in 1528. He met with St. Ignatius Loyola and was one of the seven, who in 1534 founded the Society of Jesus. He intended to join Ignatius in Venice and then they would go as missionaries to Palestine, a trip which did not occur. He was ordained in 1537 and went to Rome in 1538 and 1540 when the Pope formally recognized the Society of Jesus. At that time, he, alongside Father Simon Rodriguez, was ordered to the Far East as the first Jesuit missionaries.
King John the 3rd retained Fr. Simon in Lisbon but Francis, spent six months preaching in Mozambique along with giving some assistance to the sick. He eventually arrived in Goa, India in 1542 with Fr. Paul of Camerino and Francis Mansihas. He began evangelizing the natives and attempted to reform the Europeans by adopting their customs on his many travels. He converted tens of thousands to Christianity in the subsequent decade.
He visited Paravas in India, Malacca, near New Guinea, Morotai near the Philippines and Japan. In 1551, the East and India was dedicated as a separate province and Ignatius designated Francis as its first provincial. In 1552 he went to China and landed on Sancian; where he died before he could reach the mainland. Working against excessive complications, language problems, he had no proficiency in foreign speaking, insufficient monies, and lack of assistance, often actual confrontation, even from European representatives; he left the mark of his missionary enthusiasm and vigor on areas which adhered to Christianity for centuries. He was beatified in 1622 and declared patron of all foreign missions by Pope Pius X. on Dec. 3.
Our scripture for the week, Romans 15:4-13; St. Paul is speaking to us on what was written in the old days being relevant even today for our instruction. “So that by determination and encouragement of the scriptures that we may have hope.” We need to live more in an attitude of hope and inspiration from the direction of the scriptures. Paul also tells us that our God wants us to live in harmony and peace with our neighbors, as Christ did. And that all of us in this harmony and unison may glorify the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We are to be welcoming of our neighbors as Christ has welcomed us. Jesus became a servant to the circumcised on the behalf of the truth of God in order that he might authorize the promises known to the fathers, so that the Gentiles may exalt God for his kindness and compassion. For it is written, “Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name.” Again, he said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, and let all of the peoples praise Him.” Paul refers to the prophet Isaiah, “The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may prosper in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was this hope that served as an inspiration for St. Francis Xavier. To have been a Missionary at his time, or really at the present time, was a very dangerous time. Things may have appeared very daunting to him, in the tasks that he was set forth. At any time, he and companions could have just given up. Hope, on the other hand, can be a very inspirational tool. God wants us to live and act in a spirit of hope, to be hopeful of the future and instill the hope of Christ in the present. We all have a certain desire for things to happen, for a certain situation to improve and get better, for a loved one who is sick to become healthier again, or for a better job. For as long as we live in hope, we can greet our neighbors, friends and relatives in an attitude of hope. As long as we have hope centered in Christ, there is always a chance for things to change. Jesus wants to be the light in your darkness and to be your hope for better things.
Amen, Brother! Thank you for this message today. What a great example of zeal for the Gospel that we have in St. Francis Xavier. May he pray for us in our missions. Excellent work!
Very nice homily, Matt. Thank you for the lesson for this week!