Go and set the world on fire!
Today is the feast day of St. Francis Xavier, a 16th century Jesuit missionary. When he was being sent by St. Ignatius Loyola to the Far East, he was told to “go and set the world on fire.” He did just that, as he was an insatiable laborer for souls, preaching the Gospel, touching people’s hearts with his poverty and detachment from worldly goods, and engaging them with his care and compassion.
St. Francis Xavier’s heart burned with a zeal for the faith; he used his gifts, freely given from the Father, to draw people closer to Christ. He had the courage and patience of a faithful missionary, seeking to see with the eyes of Christ, feel with the heart of Christ, and act as Christ would call him to act. As Isaiah notes, if we listen and discern, the Teacher will guide us: “This is the way, walk in it.”
Our work at Catholic Charities forces us to “open our eyes” to the challenges all around us. Christ’s heart was moved with pity because so many were troubled and abandoned — let our hearts be the same.
Then, he sent out laborers — that’s US! May we go to the lost sheep, whether at homeless shelters or food pantries, or among the migrants and refugees, and touch their hearts with our care and compassion. At our best, the fire of our love will warm the hearts of those we serve — one relationship at a time, especially for those in most need.
As we labor, let us remember that our ministry is not about us; it’s about Christ working through us to change the world for good. Without cost we have received, without cost we should give. Or stated another way, “Let us give the gift we have received as a gift to a world in need.”
Through our labors, may we indeed “set the world on fire.”
Deacon Scott Haner is a Permanent Deacon at St. Patrick parish in Louisville, KY. He also serves on the Board of Catholic Charities of Louisville. He was taught in high school by the Xaverian Brothers. St. Francis Xavier — pray for us!