Monday, December 3, 2012

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, priest

(Isaiah 2:1-5; Matthew 8:5-11)

One chronicler says that St. Francis Xavier was “the pampered son of a Basque noble.” Yet in due time he was able to shed the trappings of wealth to live as a missionary. It would be hard to believe that life in Asia for a Jesuit missionary was anything but grueling. What made Francis eager to go there? Probably as a founder of the Society of Jesus, Francis took to heart the order’s motto, “For the greater glory of God.”

The feast of St. Francis Xavier serves well at the beginning of Advent because he reminds us of the closeness of Christ. A Jesuit is trained to walk with Christ as his sole companion. He can live outside of community with the same enthusiasm as one who is well supported by comrades because he senses Christ’s presence. He can argue the reasonableness of Catholic belief because he is convinced of Christ’s love.

Advent is a paradoxical time. It has penitential elements, but we cannot help but anticipate the imminent arrival of Jesus. The glory achieved by Francis Xavier assures us that whatever discipline we undertake is worth the effort and whatever modest celebration we make is not out of order.