By Aime, sx
Through movies and books I have learned that before you met Saint Ignatius of Loyola, you had great ambitions, big dreams, namely a prominent clerical carrier, or let us be precise, you wanted to restore the lost prestige of your cherished family. Brilliant as you were, certainly you would have achieved it.
So, did you ever think you will be that great when you changed your initial plan and accepted to embrace the unknown, to bring the Gospel in Asia, to face all kind of risks and hostility from nature, people and empires; yes, when you allowed yourself to be carried by the wind of God on uncertain paths? Putting aside the probability that you would not see your cherish family anymore.
I do not know if you ever heard of this word “self-actualization”. The psychologists say that this concept could be rendered as “developing to one’s fullest potential”. Is it not how God worked with you, bringing you in valleys and pastures where you could develop to your fullest potential? I wander!
Oh, today, the beauty that you inspired has spread like a virus all around the world; people are talking about you, children have inherited your name; schools, hospitals, centers of prayer could not resist that beauty and were named after you. Pilgrims and novenas are offered in your honor Saint Francis Xavier, especially on December 03 of each year. Yes, even some congregations, like the Xaverian Missionaries to which I belong, have considered you as the Patron Saint and model, with the dream of bringing the Gospel to China and all over the world. More than that, to crown you, four centuries after your death, you were declared “Patron of all Missions”, for the whole Church, along with Saint Therese of Lisieux. Then I ask, did you ever think you will be that great in the next generations after your short life?
The evidence says NO, as far as I can trust my intuition. Burned with zeal for the Gospel, you lost yourself to find your true self in Christ in a modest way, cut off from the security that family and friends could provide. You were appointed Apostolic Nuncio for the East, but did not hold on this position nor consider it a thing to boast of; instead you shared the hardships of sailors. During your missionary activities, History records that you were working in hospitals, teaching catechism through songs, staying with fishermen, baptizing, giving all your time to all those children who, in your own words, would not allow you any time to stay in your office, or to eat or to sleep, until you had taught them some prayer. This was your Joy, your self-actualization.
You made small things with the only goal of helping others to find God that people still consider great. Interestingly, we see you dying on an island, a metaphor of isolation also, an unpopulated island where no funeral procession would be organized, no solemn mass be celebrated in honor of a great missionary and the apostolic nuncio. You were somehow lost, but still with an extraordinary faith.
Yes, God had his own plan to make you great, greater than what you could have imagined, and you accepted to become a child, even a servant of all and to enter in his plan. Instead of your family’s prestige, God gave you to work for the prestige of the Gospel, the church, and Jesus Himself. The words of Jesus, the one for whom you dedicated your life, were proven true through your life: “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”[Mt 18,4].