The feast of St. Francis Xavier helps us understand what each of us must do to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus in the world today. In the words of the saint – just do what God asks you to do.
Francis Xavier was born into an aristocratic family during a time of great political upheaval in Spain. When he went to study in Paris, he intended to return to Spain to take part in the politics of the day. But God had other plans.
In Paris, Francis Xavier roomed with Ignatius Loyola and Pierre Favre – who became the founders of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits – and their influence clearly touched his soul. Though the young Francis resisted God’s call to become a priest, he eventually embraced his vocation and began his mission to save the lost.
On August 15, 1534, in a small chapel in Montmartre, Francis joined Loyola and five others in making private vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the Pope. He then vowed to travel to the Holy Land to convert infidels. Francis began his study of theology in 1534, and was ordained on June 24, 1537.
Soon after, Francis Xavier became an accidental “Apostle to the East.” Nicholas Bobadilla had been selected by Ignatius Loyola to go to India, but at the last moment Bobadilla became ill and Francis Xavier took his place. Through this turn of events, Francis became the first Jesuit missionary in the history of this new religious community – and he eventually became known as the “Apostle of the Indies” and the “Apostle of Japan.” In 1927, Pope Pius XI named St. Francis Xavier, along with St. Thérèse of Lisieux, co-patrons of all foreign missions.
Today, Cross Catholic Outreach shares this important call to carry the Gospel into the world. Francis Xavier sought to see the face of Christ in everyone he met. He also recognized that faith without charity is not faith at all, and that to be a bearer of God’s Word to the world means we must address the needs of body and soul together.
By promoting this integral ministry, we can help change the world and more effectively build the kingdom of God!