Burning fire in Xavier's heart
Please listen to Father Broom's Homily on St. Francis Xavier
The last words that St. Ignatius said
to Francis Xavier before he was sent as the greatest missionary after St Paul
were, GO SET ALL ON FIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!
He embarked for India, then to Japan and died on the shore overlooking
China. His missionary work was completed
in only 11 years and he died of exhaustion at 46 years of age.
Like Francis Xavier all followers of
Christ are called to be prophets, evangelizers, and missionaries. Both Blessed
Pope John Paul II and the present Pope Benedict XVI insist on followers of
Christ encountering Christ as Friend and Lord and then sharing Jesus with
others. It is a contradiction in terms to keep the priceless treasure of Friendship
with Jesus to oneself. St. Andrew teaches us this lesson. After being called by
Jesus, Andrew filled with joy hurries to tell the Good News (“Gospel”) to his
How did St Francis Xavier in such a
short time convert, baptize, teach in the Catholic faith thousands? What was
his secret to success?
SPIRITUAL EXERCISES. His conversion came about by having been
directed and completing the Spiritual Exercises directed by St. Ignatius
himself. Ignatius challenged Xavier with the Biblical quotation: “What
would it profit a man to gain the whole world if he lose his soul in the
process?” The Spiritual Exercises
done well enlighten, convert, and transform those who do them into fiery
OBEDIENCE. The Holy Father asked Ignatius to send some
of his followers from the Company of Jesus to India and the Far East and
Francis Xavier obeyed. Obedience to God, the Pope, and the Church is always a
true sign of holiness by which God blesses with abundant graces. “Lord, not my will but yours be done!” (Prayer of Jesus to the Father in the Garden
LOVE FOR POVERTY. Upon arriving in
India, Xavier’s heart overflowed with love for the poor of the country. His
love knew no bounds.
Identification! Instead of
seeking out comfortable lodgings and ease, Xavier decided to live with the
poor, sleep like the poor, eat and drink with the poor, and become poor
himself. Jesus’s first Beatitude
exemplifies this attitude of heart: “Blessed
are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5: 3).
LOVE FOR THE CHILDREN. Jesus taught love for children. “Let
the children come to me for such is the kingdom of heaven.” Francis Xavier loved the children and they
loved him. He taught them their catechism, as well as their prayers. Such was
the love the children had for him that barely did he have time to say his
prayers or even eat!
APOSTOLIC CREATIVITY. Xavier was a genius, as teacher and
missionary. As a tool for memorization of the catechism, Xavier made use of the
song. In simple verse and rhyme Xavier taught the children the basics of
catechism. Domino effect! Then the
children would return home and sing the catechism thereby teaching their own
parents. Pope John Paul II exhorts followers of Christ to be opened to the Holy
Spirit and new apostolic creativity and initiatives. Jesus said to Nicodemus that the spirit blows
where He wills. Like Xavier let us be open to the wind-direction of the Holy
Spirit and follow!
BAPTISM! It all starts with the sacrament of Baptism.
After instructions, Francis Xavier would baptize in the hundreds leading to the
thousands! At the end of his day at times he could no longer hold up his arm
any longer due to the huge numbers of Baptisms he would do.
ORDER THE DISORDER/ORGANIZATION. This great saint after finishing his time in
one place, would leave well-formed catechists to carry on with the mission of
forming the people in the community. HELPERS & LAY LEADERS! Now more than ever zealous priests need
zealous lay-leaders to help to carry on the task of evangelization. “The harvest is rich but the laborers are
INCULTURATION. While travelling to
Japan, Xavier had to learn the social mores and customs of another country. In
this case dressed in rags caused the Japanese Emperor revulsion. As St. Paul
says, “I become all things to all men so as to win as many to Christ as
possible.” Xavier donned the most elegant clothes fashionable and gave gifts to
the Emperor, thereby winning the Emperor’s friendship and opening up the door
to the preaching of the Gospel message in Japan.
PRAYER AND PENANCE. It is impossible to find a saint who did not
take the “Two-P’s” seriously--- PRAYER & PENANCE! At the end of his exhausting day, Xavier spent
hours in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament, praising the Lord, thanking the
Lord and imploring for the sanctification and salvation of the people God
placed in his path. The consolation that God sent Francis Xavier during his prayer was so intense
(very much like that of his contemporary St. Philip Neri) that he begged the
Lord “basta”--- “enough” of the consolation lest he die of its intensity! May
Xavier attain for us the fire of intensity in our prayers! Penance? He slept very little so as to accompany the
Lord and offer himself as victim for the salvation of souls.
10. APOSTOLIC ZEAL. The favorite prayer of Xavier was “GIVE ME
SOULS!” Another saint who had a
similar motto was Saint John Bosco whose motto was posted on the wall of his
office: “Give me souls and take all the rest away.” St. John of the Cross
asserts: “Authentic charity is manifested by apostolic zeal.” Indeed if we truly
love God then we should love what God loves--- the salvation of immortal
souls. In the Office of Readings for
the Feast of St. Francis Xavier, in a
letter written to St. Ignatius, there is a passionate appeal for more workers
to gather in the harvest, specifically reproaching the proud and learned at the
Universities of Europe (especially Paris).
The words of Xavier explode with apostolic zeal and intense suffering
for the salvation of immortal souls.
Let us meditate attentively the words of St. Francis Xavier.
“Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason:
there is nobody to make them Christians. Again and again I have thought of
going round the universities of Europe, especially Paris, and everywhere crying
out like a madman. Riveting the attention of those with more learning than
charity: What a tragedy: how many souls
are being shut out of heaven and falling into hell, thanks to you! I wish they
would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account
with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.” (Office of Readings, Dec. 3,
Feast of St. Francis Xavier)
May the last words of St. Ignatius of
Loyola to St. Francis Xavier ignite our hearts to become missionaries in our
modern world in this year of grace, the year of faith--- GO SET ALL ON