Posted by: fvbcdm | December 3, 2012

Feast of Saint Francis Xavier (3 Dec 2012)

This Monday we celebrate in our liturgy the commemoration day of Saint Francis Xavier, and the first weekday of the holy season of Advent.

Xavier was a close friend of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. Both of them were Basques, members of that ethnic group that inhabits the region of southern France and northern Spain, but whose origins, language, and culture are quite different from the French and the Spanish. The two men studied together in Paris, where Ignatius was preparing himself for the priesthood, and Xavier was something of a playboy. But the prayers of Ignatius and the grace of God finally brought about the conversion of Xavier, who joined Ignatius Loyola in his newly-founded religious community, the Jesuits. He became a very ardent convert indeed, and gladly went to the ends of the earth to preach the gospel in what is now Indonesia and Japan. However, the Church has had to struggle against the powerful forces of paganism, persecution, and Islam. Japan is less than 1% Catholic; Indonesia is about 3% Catholic. So there is still much work to be done there in terms of evangelization, and much need for our prayers for those people who for the most part do not know and love Our Divine Lord.

In the gospel of today’s Mass, we find the Roman centurion coming to ask Jesus to heal his servant who is gravely and painfully ill. “I will come and cure him,” Our Lord answers. Now, the centurion no doubt knows that for a Jew to enter the home of a Gentile, brings with it ritual impurity. He wants to save Our Lord the trouble of making the trip to his home, and also the ritual impurity, so he hastens to assure Jesus that he isn’t asking him to COME to his home. He is not worthy of that, and besides, it’s not necessary. He is a man of authority; he can give orders at a distance and they are carried out, and he firmly believes that Jesus can do the same thing, and that the sickness of his servant will be healed by the word of Jesus even at a distance.

Our Lord marvels at this kind of faith on the part of a Gentile, and says that he hasn’t found this kind of faith even in Israel, that is, among the Jewish people who should recognize him to be the Messiah.

Those beautiful words of the centurion have been incorporated into our Mass. Just before Holy Communion, we say to Our Lord, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Why is this gospel passage chosen for today? Because we are preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ into our world at Christmas. We — the human race — are surely NOT worthy that he should enter under our roofs, but nonetheless we want him; we need him; we cannot achieve our eternal destiny without him. So we pray in the words of the centurion of long ago, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come to me, but forget my unworthiness and come anyway!”  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message in the past.

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