St Francis Xavier: All for the Glory of God
|The Holy Relic at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta.|
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu
Homily given by Rev Clifford D’souza MSFS during the Pilgrimage of Grace visit of the relic of St Francis Xavier in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, on Thursday 29 November 2012
Gospel text Mk: 16:15-20
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This evening as we gather to celebrate the Eucharist and venerate the relic of St Francis Xavier, right now in another continent, tens of thousands of people are gathering as devotees of St Francis Xavier, popularly known in Goa as Goencho Saib (Patron of Goa), at Bom Jesu Basilica in Old Goa, in India in the state of Goa. I am sure in other parts of the world, Francis Xavier is also venerated and the feast celebrated shortly.
In Goa, many pilgrims and devotees from all walks of life and of different faith backgrounds will be gazing up at the casket where his incorruptible body is laid to rest; praying the novenas, making promises and placing their offerings, participating in the Holy Masses that are celebrated by the hour during the day and night in the days leading up to his feast. I am sure in other places where Francis Xavier was present, people will gather.
Why do so many pilgrims throng to such places? Because he made Christ available to the people he encountered.
Yes, this man, Francis Xavier took the gospel to heart seriously and literally: “Go out to the whole world to proclaim the Good News.” Obedient to St Ignatius of Loyola his superior and founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), Francis Xavier left his country and his people (Spain) and came to the shores of Goa, India, and started preaching and evangelising the Portuguese colonists, traders and the natives of Goa and nearby places (many of us can claim as the desendants).
Peace to all those whom he reached out to
In addition to his extensive mission to Portuguese India, he baptised tens of thousands throughout Sri Lanka, Portugal, Malaysia, he ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Moluccas, other islands of present- day Indonesia (the closest Francis came to Australian shores) and other areas never before visited by Christian missionaries.
In his missionary journeys, he encountered difficulties and challenges of all sorts: the lukewarm faith of the Portuguese colonists, opposition, language, different cultures and people. Yet Francis Xavier would interact with the poor and the common people. At other times, he felt it necessary to meet the rulers in Japan to make inroads for Christ. Many listened to his preaching and were baptised but at other times he was disappointed, but he did not give up.
Francis Xavier died on an island of Shangchuan when he was struck with illness on his journey to China. He was only 46 years of age and yet in the short period of time between the start of his missionary work and his death, he did so much; he went to so many places and was deeply involved in preaching the Gospel.
We are here to venerate the right arm of St Francis Xavier. It was this hand that he lay upon the sick who were healed (as we have heard in today’s Gospel) This is the hand that held the crucifix of our dear Lord in his preaching, this is the hand that held the Bible, this hand baptised thousands of new Christians, this hand through his gentle touch gave hope, encouragement and peace to all those whom he reached out to.
Many of us here tonight will claim to be the indirect recipients of the faith handed down by our forefathers and we give credit to St Francis Xavier. We thank him and praise and glorify God.
We cannot be complacent and take glory in our faith heritage. But we ask ourselves: Is my faith strong to withstand the pressures and challenges of life? How do I demonstrate my faith within my family and circle of friends, in my workplace and in matters of social justice?
Do I talk about God to others? The faith that we as adults and elders have received: do we nourish it with reception of the sacraments, reading the Scriptures and reflecting in the context of our daily lives? Do we have a personal love for Christ and deepen it with daily and personal prayer? Finally, do we share that with the younger generation?
All for the Glory of God was the motive of Francis Xavier. Pope Benedict XVI said of both Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier: that they had a unique desire — a unique passion, to give to God-Trinity a glory always greater and to work for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who had been ignored.
St Francis Xavier is noteworthy for his missionary work, both as organiser and as pioneer. He is said to have converted more people than anyone else has done since Saint Paul. He is known as the Patron of all Missionaries.
Very shortly, on 3 December, we celebrate the feast of St Francis Xavier. We recall the wonderful and extraordinary life that he led. May we be inspired by his missionary zeal to bring souls closer to Christ and witness the love of God in our lives.
Photo Gallery: Holy Relic at St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish in Parramatta
Year of Grace Parramatta: National Pilgrimage of Grace News Index
« Return to news list