Today is the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier. During Advent, obligatory memorials are celebrated just as they are in Ordinary Time, using the current day of the Psalter, the Proper of Saints, and the Commons. However, I want to share a reflection on St. Francis Xavier in light of the current day’s prayers for Advent. In the Office of Readings for the memorial, we have a convicting letter from St. Francis Xavier to St. Ignatius of Loyola. In this letter, he writes of how, as a missionary to India and Japan, he had not stopped baptizing children and teaching them basic Catholic prayers and devotions. He laments that “many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians.” He goes on to say that he wishes the academics in the universities throughout Europe cared as much about spreading the Gospel as they did about writing books, “that they would forget their own desires, their human affairs, and give themselves over entirely to God’s will and his choice.”
It is clear that St. Francis Xavier was motivated by a great zeal for the Catholic faith and a desire to be faithful to Christ’s command to “Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). This command comes from the very heart of Christ whose life is “the light of all men” (John 1:4), the light that shines forth among the nations, calling men of every race to repent and believe the Gospel. As we read in one of today’s responsories for Advent, “This saving act of God is for all nations.” In another responsory, we pray “Your light will come, Jerusalem; the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.” Yes, the light was promised to come upon Jerusalem. But this was precisely so that Jerusalem might become the light of the nations, drawing all men to worship the one true God. This is how the nations would come to revere the name of the Lord and the great ones of the earth acknowledge His glory (Responsory, Midmorning Prayer).
On this memorial of St. Francis Xavier, may we be inspired to not only prepare our hearts to receive the light of Christ anew this Christmas, but to share that light with others. I once heard a man say regarding his Catholic faith, “I think it’s the greatest thing on earth that [God] could ever give to a living human being… this beautiful, priceless, awesome gift of our holy Catholic faith, which I will love till my dying day.” If this is true, let us beg for the holy zeal that St. Francis Xavier had for spreading the faith and bringing men to salvation. Above all, may we heed his words to forget our own desires, our human affairs, and give ourselves over entirely to God’s will.