Dec 3 – Feast of St. Francis Xavier, presbyter, religious, missionary (Principal Patron of Foreign Missions)
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. 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
But the lowly will rejoice in the Lord even more and the poorest exult in the Holy One of Israel
Here, we have the meek and the poor.
For a Christian, meekness is essentially the indication and the reflection that comes from a positive attitude and the quality of heart it bears; it is the disposition and willingness to accept and submit without objection to the will of God. Meekness is akin to gentleness with humility embracing endurance; in all, meekness takes its stand with its mercy and self-restraint. Meekness is not weakness or frightful expression; it is seen as the power under constraint and influence of consideration. A man under the rules of meekness is slow to anger; and it goes to establish that “he who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” — Proverbs 16:32.
On the other hand, poverty is not a reclusive sentence directed to those without favour from God; it is not a curse or natural punishment for some in this world. There is poverty in wealth and poverty in spirit; in each case, the human mind and spirit is the corresponding channel of enrichment directed at God. Between poverty and abundance in wealth and material wellbeing, love of God is the controlling tag.
In 1993, in one of the parishes in Southeast Nigeria, there was a widow, Adaobi, who dedicated her days carrying out cleaning of the parish, washing of lavatory with several toilet facilities, leading and conducting prayers for the poor who related with her on a daily basis. This was her role for ten years relentlessly, in rain and sunshine. She had four children who joined her in this role; they, in turn, combined this with schooling in the midst of hardship and material disability but the family’s hope in God was embroidered in trust. In 2003, the Local Ordinary, the Bishop of the Diocese, came on a pastoral visit to this parish and spotted the widow and, after enquiries, granted the four children scholarships up to university education through a non-governmental organization. Today, two of her children are medical personnel and the rest are university graduates and are gainfully employed. This goes to complement the justification that in the presence of God, the meek shall meet favour and the poor who trust in God will rejoice — it is all a matter of time and hope.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Julius Otusorochukwu Dike, JP)
Prayer: Lord, we rely on and hope in you as the last comforter; continue to enrich our hope in you, for in you is our deposit of trust. We believe in you; continue to guide us we pray, Lord, Amen.
Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, and our Father, we thank you for keeping to your words that those who trust and hope in you will enjoy the fortune of your grace. Lord, we are grateful and thank you, Father. Amen.