The Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier
(Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26, Matthew 9:35- 10:1, 5a, 6-8)
A few moments ago, we heard these wonderful words from the prophet Isaiah: “[The Lord] will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you” (Is. 30: 19). The time of darkness and gloom is ended. The people have seen a great light. Their groans are replaced with songs of joy and their tears with laughter. Saint Paul was correct when he wrote, “The world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31). During the season of Advent, we are preparing for the coming of the Lord of Light. The one who conquered death and darkness will return to take us into his kingdom of light. We have only to look towards the East and watch for the coming of the dawn. As the deer thirsts for running water, we thirst for the Living God. As people hunger for bread, we hunger for the Bread of Life.
The Master of the Harvest has planted the seed of the gospel in our hearts. The Ruler of All, the Only-begotten and Beloved Son of God has taken flesh in the womb of the ever-virgin Mary. During these days of Advent, we are reminded of how Christ laid aside his divine privileges and took to himself our limited mortal nature so that we might be clothed in his divinity. God so loved us that he sent his Son into our flawed and sinful world. He became poor to make us rich. He became weak to make us strong. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. By his self-emptying, He reconciled us with his Father. The gift we have received surpasses any gift we could give someone else.
Any gift we decide to give at Christmas should be an expression of gratitude to God for the gifts he has given to us. The prophet Isaiah describes what we are gifted to do. “The Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the wounds of the brokenhearted. He has anointed me to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness to those who are in bondage. He has anointed me to announce the year of God’s favor and to comfort all who mourn” (Is. 61: 1-2). The Giver of all good gifts, whose birthday we are preparing to celebrate has told us, “Because these gifts have been lavished on you, give them freely to others” (Mat. 10:8). We are to share with others the Good News that echoes in our hearts. Because Christ has healed the wounds of our hearts, we are to apply a healing balm to those in need. Because we have been set free from bondage to sin, we are to show others the path to freedom. Because the Lord has dried our tears, we are to comfort those who mourn.
We have been graced in ways we could never have imagined. We must strive to make God’s work our own. God gathers the outcast to himself, and he uses us to accompany them to their heavenly homeland. He heals the brokenhearted and uses us to speak a word of consolation to them. He forgives sinners and uses us to assure them that they are reconciled with the Father. He promises to be with us until the end of time and uses us to draw others into the communion of Love. The purpose of our evangelization is to assure people that God is present for them in a strikingly new way. Those who walk in the presence of the Lord will not only receive their daily bread but will also find their resting place close to the heart of Christ. In response to the Giver of all these gifts, all that we can say is “THANKS”.