Today is Thursday the 3 December, the feast of St Francis Xavier SJ, in the 1st week of Advent.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo sing Uqinisil’Ubaba: After travelling the whole world, I still come to the same truth that I left at home: God is truth!So why do you doubt?Don’t doubt, hold on to him and place your hope in him. Listen to God because he is truth.
Today’s reading is from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23
If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe betide me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Today we are celebrating the memory of St Francis Xavier, one of the earliest followers of St Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuits. He taught Philosophy at the University of Paris, and was also the University’s High jump champion for a while. With his aristocratic background and his abilities, the world would have been at his feet, but he ended up preaching the gospel in Asia: India (especially Goa), Japan, Malaysia, Borneo; and he finally died alone on the island of Shangchuan, in sight of the Chinese mainland. For Francis Xavier, as for St Paul, all that mattered was preaching the gospel; so it is appropriate that our reading today is from a passage where we see Paul reflecting on his mission. He says, “An obligation is laid upon me” (to preach the gospel): could this be true of you?
Why do you think that Paul insists that he does not charge to preach the gospel?
Now listen while the passage is read again; as you do so, you might like to reflect what you understand by “I do it all for the sake of the gospel”. Could you perhaps say the same?
Lastly, just see if you can capture some of the feelings that are in your heart just now, and turn them into a prayer to God.