Homily for the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier
Throughout this first week of Advent, we have been reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, hearing of the promises that the Lord would bring His people out of misery, suffering, and darkness. The Lord assured His people that He would bring about their liberation and bring about blessings upon them and their children. These promises were a significant message for the people of Israel.
Not long before the prophet Isaiah’s time, the northern kingdom of Israel was completely destroyed. They had undergone decades of attacks. Eventually, the Assyrians would conquer the land and destroy many of their cities, forcing most of the Jewish people into exile. The Assyrians would also attack the cities of the southern kingdom which had itself been weakened by years of threats. As the Assyrians closed in on Jerusalem, God finally intervened and showed His power.
God crushed the armies of the Assyrians and made them and their king flee, returning to their own land in shame. Because of that, the prophecies of Isaiah were another reminder to the people of Israel that the Lord was with them and that He would always be by their side.
That’s also a similar message that we hear in our Gospel for this morning. We are being reminded of the many ways that Jesus allowed the people of His time to experience the presence of God. In the many miracles that He performed, in the ways that He showed love and compassion on the sick and the poor, in the ways that He brought hope to people’s hearts…Jesus showed how God was continuing to act in the lives of His Chosen People.
But that’s not where Jesus stopped. As we have just heard, He also sent His disciples and followers to proclaim the Good News of God’s salvation. He gave them the same power of healing and command over the demons and evil spirits that plagued others.
The thing that we often forget…that mission continues today within each one of us. As followers of Jesus, we have been given the task of going out into the world and proclaiming the Good News, of bringing others to an awareness of how Jesus continues to work in our midst. As baptized believers, we, too, have the same power to heal and command over the demons and evil spirits. We, too, can speak words of encouragement into people’s hearts. We, too, can reassure those on the outskirts of God’s love for them.
There is so much suffering and pain and hurt and confusion in the world today. We see it in the lives of many of our family members, in our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors. In fact, many of us might be experiencing that in our own lives. Many times, we might be tempted to ask where God is in the midst of that. We sometimes think that God has abandoned us. We need to remind ourselves of the truth. Just as God was present to the Israelites when their world was seemingly falling apart…just as Jesus brought the presence of God to the people of His time…God continues to be present to us. He continues to move and act in our world today. He continues to work miracles in our time. We just need the eyes of faith to see it.
Throughout this Advent season, let’s ask for that grace, that the Lord will open our eyes to see how He continues to work in our world, to see how He is present to us, how He is seeking to bring us out of the darkness of our time…and how He is inviting us to participate in that activity. May we open our hearts to Him today so that we can be filled with that gift of hope, the same sense of hope that filled the hearts of the people of Israel. And may we never forget that God is always with us.
Photo: Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash. Used under Unsplash License.