Founder’s Week, Day Eight

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Feast of Saint Francis Xavier | en Français

On this mountain the Lord of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.

Isaiah 25: 6-8

 

And Jesus passed over from there and came by the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain and sat there. And there approached him great crowds, having with them maimed, blind, lame mute, and many others; and they put them by his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd was amazed at seeing the mute speaking, the maimed healthy, and the lame walking,and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

Matthew 15: 29-31

 

My mother suffered for over 20 years with the increasing diminishment of Alzheimer’s Disease. For the better part of the first decade of that illness, our community was able to keep her at home and care for her. But, eventually, the day came when that was no longer possible. On the morning of her departure for the nursing home, she told me of a dream she had the preceding night. In that dream her father, who died when she was six years old, was returning home after being away for many years, and his family was welcoming him home, in true Italian fashion, with a great feast. As she anticipated his return she was filled with happiness and excitement. On a day I had expected to be a terribly painful one for her, she was rather living in the promise of which Isaiah speaks. There is, indeed, something in the vision of Isaiah that appeals to the deepest hopes and desires in all of us.

In the gospel from Matthew we see the fulfillment of the promise of Isaiah, although it may appear very different than expected. The Lord, on “the mountain” is providing the great feast, but those partaking of the feast are “the maimed, blind, lame mute and many others” who are suffering. The promised kingdom looks more like a gathering of the broken and wounded. It is the Lord’s compassionate presence to us as we manifest our weakness and suffering that is the fulfillment of the promise. We gather with the Lord in our brokenness and our suffering, and we discover that the promise is fulfilled in a healing Divine love that is close to us in all we are going through. Even at one of her darkest moments, my mother was filled with the joy of love and communion that somehow lay at the heart of the painful and difficult moment.

At the heart of the extraordinary life of mission of St. Francis Xavier was his love and compassion for all those to whom he was sent (and perhaps who were sent to him). God continues to long to be “God-with-us” in our time, as in all times. May we allow ourselves to be servants and signs of that love “to all whom we meet in our journey of life” and to be “given away as nourishment for others, as bread that is broken.”

We are sent as missionaries to the world to participate in the church’s mission of evangelization. Like Theodore Ryken, we believe that the best way to bring out the giftedness in an individual is through education, but we realize that education takes many forms. We see our way of life as being intimately connected with our mission and know that it is through our life of Gospel witness lived in community that we respond to the Spirit’s summons to manifest God’s care and compassionate love to the people of the world in these times. We are called to live our mission on the frontiers, whether those frontiers are on the outskirts of society among the poor and marginalized, or at the center among those who are separated and estranged from their own uniqueness. Impassioned with Spirit-driven apostolic zeal, following the example of our patron Francis Xavier, we stand ready to leave the familiar and the comfortable “to go throughout the world to teach all peoples.”

A Description of the Xaverian Charism as Lived by the Brothers

 

 

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