Homily for the Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest (3rd December, 2015)
(Thursday of the First week of Advent (II)) on the Gospel and the Memorial
Ps 117:1.8-9.19-21.25-27 (R. v.26)
Saint Francis Xavier was “born in 1506, in Spain, he was an original member of the Society of Jesus with St Ignatius – he took vows of poverty and chastity, and committed himself to evangelise the pagans. He is one of the greatest of all Christian missionaries, preaching in Goa, South East Asia, Japan – where he landed in 1549. He learned Japanese, and formed a Church that endured long drawn-out persecution. He died while on his way from Goa to China, in 1552. Not only was his preaching effective in drawing people to Christ, but he was able to organise the communities so that they could survive when he left them” (The Weekday Missal: A New Edition, p. 1995).
Topic: The Word of God.Considering how often people go to church and other religious exercises, hear the word of God among other things one might tend to conclude that heaven has come at last. But at the same time, evil of different kinds keeps increasing everyday in the world. Hence, Jesus’ warning in the gospel: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21). In the gospel according to Luke we also read: “Blessed ... are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk 11:28).
The Letter to the Hebrews describes the word of God as something “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Saint Peter in his first letter wrote: “You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1Pt 1:23).
Can we then say that the word of God has either changed or has lost its vitality? Saint Paul writes that “It is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel” (Rom 9:6).
In his letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul admonishes us to “... take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17). But many Christians have rejected the word of God because of other things like traditions, cf. Mk 7:13; Matt 15:6; 2Tim 4:9-11. For the apostles, it is wrong to leave the word of God for any other thing, Acts 6:2. We ought to accept the word of God as the Thessalonians did “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1Thess 2:13) after the example of Saint Francis Xavier.
Bible Reading: Jas 1:19-27; Rom 2:1-16; 9:1-18.
Thought for today: What is God’s word for you?
Let us pray: God, give us the grace to receive your word as what it really is. And may it be our guiding principle through Christ our Lord – Amen!
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