Today is the feast of one of the greatest missionaries of all time, St. Francis Xavier.He is the patron saint of missionaries, and of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, where my life and ordained ministry began.
St. Francis is a great model for us today, in so many ways. He first of all fell in love with the Lord, Jesus, and dedicated his life to following him and proclaiming him to all the world. He is a great intercessor for the work of evangelization in our time. While he traveled to many lands, his home was only and always God’s Kingdom, and he helped many others enter into this ‘home’ by introducing them to Jesus Christ.
Early this morning, as this great feast day began here in Seattle, I was restless, anxious about the challenges we face in the Church today. In a moment of grace, the Lord reminded me of his GREATNESS. God is the maker of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah and Moses. Just look at all that God has created, and all the marvelous works he has accomplished throughout the history of salvation! I am but a small speck, if even that, against the infinite goodness of God. Jesus also told me: “I have this. I can handle this. Keep your eyes on me.”
One of my practices this Advent is to take two or three times a day, for 10 – 15 minutes each, and do nothing but reflect upon God’s love. Then, the rest of the day, try to stay rooted in and act from that relationship of love with the LORD.
This is something any and all of us can do. It simply takes some discipline, and a desire and willingness to surrender to the LORD.
As I reflected this morning upon this GREATNESS of God, I was naturally led to think about God’s Kingdom. This reflection, combined with a renewed focus on God’s love, helped me to see the world in a new light – the Light of Jesus – as one, not many nations and people, but one kingdom – the Kingdom of God.
Many of you know the new Tom Hanks movie out that is gaining lots of attention and good reviews (No, I have not yet seen it.) recalling the famous Mr. Rogers. He began his show with the line: “It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”
Every day is a beautiful day in God’s Kingdom.
Every day, we are members of God’s family. Every day, we live in God’s kingdom. Thus, every day is beautiful if we have the eyes of faith to see and the hearts to love.
God’s Kingdom is our focus for Advent. the Prophet Isaiah said it well: “Come. let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2: 3)
Today, let us seek the intercession of St. Francis Xavier, asking for the grace to live humbly in the presence of the LORD. Let us seek the Kingdom of God above all else, for this is our origin and end, and the true ‘reality’ that permeates what lies in between. God’s Kingdom lies with in each of us, and is longing, even begging to be shared! Living in this Kingdom is the source of joy and blessing, optimism and hope, goodwill and common good.
Let us praise God in the midst of those who do not yet believe, for this is the mission of the Church, served so well by St. Francis Xavier.
As the responsorial said so beautifully in today’s Office of Readings:
“The proud man will lower his eyes. The arrogant man will be humbled. The Lord alone shall be exalted.” (See Isaiah 2:11 & Matthew 24:30)
Blessed Advent to all!