Empowered by the Spirit

St. Francis Xavier was the first Jesuit Missionary in the East. When the priest-missionary appointed by St. Ignatius of Loyola became seriously ill, at the last moment, he had to replace Francis with great hesitation and uneasiness. Before becoming a Jesuit and a priest, Francis has his personal ambitions of worldly advancement in order to repair the damage of his family’s fortunes. But greatly influenced by the ideas and witness of Ignatius, he became one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus. Thus, almost by accident, he became a missionary. As Francis was about to leave for the missions in India, Ignatius instructed him: “Go, set the world on fire!”

This, he did! He did not only go to India; he also travelled to Sri Lanka, some believed he may have been the first apostle in the Philippines and finally settled in Japan. As in India, he was well-received and baptized thousands in Japan. His effectivity came from his hard work and passion for spreading the gospel, his deep trust in God, his obedience and prayerfulness. One of the miracles attributed to him is how he got back his cross after losing it at sea.

It was said that Francis was caught up in a storm as he was travelling to Malacca in 1546. With much faith, he threw his cross into the sea, asking God to make it an instrument to pacify the turbulent sea. God, indeed, came to his aid. The storm ceased and the sea calmed down. Upon reaching the shores of Malacca, he found a crab crawling towards him holding the missing cross on its claws. Like St. Paul in apostolic times, Francis was used by the Holy Spirit to set the modern world on fire! Though his work in Japan seemed destroyed by persecution, Protestant Missionaries three centuries later discovered 100,000 Christians in the area of Nagasaki.

Today, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. We recall the Holy Spirit descending upon Mary and the apostles through tongues of fire. As a result, the frightened followers of Jesus were transformed into courageous and zealous witnesses. They became fiery preaches, indomitable evangelizers and enthusiastic martyrs of the faith. Their joy and sincere way of life made their witness attractive and credible. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit to set the world on fire. Thus, they were able to change the world. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with greater courage, new hope, brighter light and deeper love in order to be joyful witnesses of Jesus in our times.

Prayer: Lord, let me follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my life so that I may be your courageous and faithful witness today.

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