The Baton of Faith: Weekly Message for 12-03-2019

Dear Friends in Christ, 

December 3 is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits and widely renowned as one of the greatest missionaries since the Apostles. 

From Portugal he made his first trip to India, landing at Goa in 1542. Tradition held that St. Thomas the Apostle first brought Christianity to southwest India. So it was fitting that Francis in a sense was building on the work of one of the earliest missionaries. 

It is a reminder that the great figures of Church history are part of a tradition. They receive the faith as a gift and pass it on to others. Francis Xavier is estimated to have baptized anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of people. 

Yet, Francis Xavier never made it to a land he relished to evangelize. Like Moses who never quite made it into the promised land, Francis died on the island of Sancian, oh so close to mainland China. His promised land would be evangelized by others. 

His life holds a particular lesson for us. Though he didn’t quite reach a goal, his life wasn’t a failure. He was faithful to the end. Others would be inspired by him and carry on his work. 

So it is with each of us. Faithfulness to God’s call gives us the chance to cooperate with divine grace, to pass on to others the baton of faith we have received. 

This is what our moment in salvation history is all about. We are part of a narrative that will have a happy ending, for those who remain faithful. 

To enter the spirit of the narrative of the approaching season, our Retreat Guide on The Christmas Apostle might be helpful — a stepping stone toward the ultimate promised land. 

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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