Notebook

Mission

Francis Xavier’s ministry was not one of constant success. A telling incident occurred in 1551. After several months’ effort in Yamaguchi without making a single convert, Francis’s companion Fernandez was teaching in public one day when a man came up and spat in his face. Fernandez calmly wiped his face, and continued preaching. Faced with this spectacle, one of the Jesuits’ bitterest enemies converted to the faith and asked for baptism. Within a few weeks the local Church counted many converts. We’re given to complaining, today, that society does not want to hear the Christian message. What is it, though, that niggles us? Is it that Christ is unknown? Or is it our sense that no one appreciates us and our once-prestigious institutions? Often our motives are mixed. Therefore it is important to examine them. We are called to cast fire upon the earth. Let’s make sure our hearts are set on doing just that, not on restoring tatty Christmas lights to adorn our own houses. If the world spits on us, our response may reveal the face of Christ more effectively than any preaching. The Lord exhorts us, ‘You received without charge, give without charge’. So that is what we must do. (From Entering the Twofold Mystery).