Wednesday, December 2, 2009


“St. Francis Xavier”
by José Ibarra, c. 1740 


Biographical Information about St. Francis Xavier[1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier

Readings and Commentary:

1 Corinthians 9:16-19. 22-23

Brothers and sisters:
If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense,
but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
What then is my recompense?
That, when I preach,
I offer the Gospel free of charge
so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.
Although I am free in regard to all,
I have made myself a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.
I have become all things to all, to save at least some.
All this I do for the sake of the Gospel,
so that I too may have a share in it.

Commentary on
1 Cor 9:16-19. 22-23

St. Paul continues to exhort the church at Corinth to follow his example. He begins this selection with a restatement of his own imperative call: to proclaim the Gospel is a “divine compulsion.” His reward for responding to that call is that he “too may have a share in it.” His clear message is that the Gospel he proclaims and the work he accomplishes should bring glory to Christ, not to himself.

CCC: 1 Cor 9:5-18 2122; 1 Cor 9:19 876; 1 Cor 9:22 24
Psalm 117:1 bc, 2

R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!

R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.

R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Commentary on
Ps 117:1 bc, 2

“This shortest of hymns calls on the nations to acknowledge God's supremacy. The supremacy of Israel's God has been demonstrated to them by the people's secure existence, which is owed entirely to God's gracious fidelity.” [4] Using a refrain from St. Mark’s Gospel, the psalm is one of praise for the Good News of God’s salvation.

Mark 16:15-20

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
"Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
So the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Commentary on
Mk 16:15-20

The verse just prior to this passage, which is the ending of St. Mark’s Gospel, indicates that the disciples are still not sure what has happened (typical of the image we have of the disciples in St. Mark's Gospel). Jesus comes to them at table, rebuking them for their unbelief. That sets the stage for this commissioning address by the Lord. Once again the disciples, now Apostles, are sent into the world with God’s blessing. This action is important because it supports the universal mission of the Twelve. In response to the Lord's instructions the Apostles went into the world, accompanied by the Holy Spirit ("while the Lord worked with them"). They demonstrated the truth that is Christ risen.

CCC: Mk 16:15-16 977, 1223; Mk 16:15 888; Mk 16:16 161, 183, 1253, 1256, 1257; Mk 16:17-18 670, 1507; Mk 16:17 434, 1673; Mk 16:18 699; Mk 16:19 659, 659; Mk 16:20 2, 156, 670

At the dawn of the 16th century, St. Francis Xavier began his service to the Lord. The scripture presented today describes for us what the Lord expected of some of his servants: a love of the Word of God and a fire in their hearts to take that word to others. Such was the spirit given to St. Francis. He began by following in the footsteps of St. Thomas the Apostle, going first to India and proclaiming the word there. To this day his presence is felt as the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), his order, continues his legacy.

God did not give him a long life on this earth. But in what he was given, our saint accomplished amazing works on behalf of the Gospel. He brought God’s Word to so many with a passion and love that literally transformed the faith of multitudes. His example of tireless effort on the part of the Lord is one we are all called to share. When Jesus sent his disciples into the world (as sheep among wolves) he laid that same mission at our feet, for who are we but co-heirs of the mission of Christ.

Today, we ask for the intercession of St. Francis Xavier. We pray that our faith is strengthened, and that by our words and actions, we are able to continue the work he so bravely began, taking the Word of God into the world so that others wrapped in darkness might see the light of Chirst.


[1] The picture is “St. Francis Xavier” by José Ibarra, c. 1740 
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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