03 December 2007

DIFFERENT TIMES BUT SAME MANDATE

Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and Patron of the Missions

DIFFERENT TIMES BUT SAME MANDATE
Mk 16:15-20

Francis was born in 1506 to the affluent Xavier family, in Navarre, Spain, He studied in Paris, France and became one of the first followers of St. Ignatius of Loyola. As a Jesuit missionary, he evangelized the people of India and Japan. Francis baptized countless souls. His right hand that baptized thousands upon thousands of converts remains uncorrupt until. It is said that when he passed away in 1552, his eyes were fixed on the Philippines where he wanted to do missions as well.

Francis lived in a time different from ours. It was a time when the belief that there was no salvation outside the Church was very prevalent. This belief was the driving force that immensely motivated Francis to convert as many as he could to the faith and administer baptism to countless souls.

Today, the Church already acknowledges the “anonymous Christian”. The “anonymous Christian” is he or she, who, through no fault of his or her own, has not yet heard the Gospel, but strives to live moral lives by following the voice of their conscience. He or she, too, according to Vatican II, by God’s mysterious designs and unfathomable mercy, may also be saved. Without explicitly saying that there is also salvation outside the Church, the Church, however, reiterates her belief that God wishes that all men and women be saved and her role in the world is to be the sacrament of that salvation offered by God to all through His Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus is the one and only one Redeemer of the world and the sole mediator between God and man. The Church, His spouse, is the privileged channel of redemption.

If Francis were still doing mission today, he would be very much surprised about the development of the Church’s understanding of herself in the world. But Francis would still burn with zeal for the conversion of the whole humanity to Christ and labor without rest for the incorporation of all humankind into the Body of Christ, the Church, through baptism.

We live in a time very much different from the time of Francis. But the mandate remains the same: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mk 16:15). This mandate is ours just as it was Francis’. Francis fulfilled his by laboring for and in the missions. How do we accomplish ours?

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