Gospel: Mt 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8
Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom; and he cured every sickness and disease. When he saw the crowds, he was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the master of the harvest to send workers to gather his harvest.”
Jesus called his Twelve disciples to him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness.
Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instructions: Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.
Go, and proclaim this message: The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give.”
Today we are remembering Francis Xavier, one of the greatest missionaries of all time.
The Spaniard Francis was born in 1506, went to study in Paris, there met St. Ignatius of Loyola, was converted by him from his frivolous life, became one of the first Jesuits, was ordained a priest at age 31, and embarked in 1541 for India. Then for the next ten years until his death in 1552, he spent all his strength in establishing and organizing missions. This he did in three countries, working two years in each place: India (1542-44), Malaysia (1545-47) and Japan (1549-51). He died of exhaustion on the small island of Sancian, facing China, where he had hoped to preach the Gospel.
The sufferings Francis endured are unimaginable. Yet, throughout his heroic adventures, he was always full of joy. Wherever he went, he lived with the poor and ministered to the sick, particularly the lepers.
As in today’s gospel reading we see Jesus send the twelve apostles and tell them, “Go and preach,” we too are sent to “go and preach” the Gospel, not so much with words as with our very lives—preach thus to our spouse, children, workmates. This means helping, listening, giving our most precious commodity, which is our time.