Today the Catholic Church celebrates the meorial of St. Francis Xavier, one of the early companions of St. Igatius.
In 1539, the King of Portugal requested that Ignatius send two missionaries to the Portuguese colony of Goa. One of the two named fell ill and there was no one to take his place except Francis. At the time, Francis himself was recuperating from having overworked himself in Venice; he is described as having been at the time “so pale and wasted that he seemed no longer to be a living man but a walking corpse.”
Yet when Ignatius broke the news to him that he must go to India, Francis didn’t say, “Aw c’mon, why me.” He didn’t say “it wasn’t exactly my plan to be a missionary in India.” He didn’t say, “Look, I’m beat and I just can’t handle a tough posting right now. Can’t I get one of those cushy spots in the wine country of France or Spain?”
Rather, he responded, reportedly with these words: “Good enough! I am ready!” The next day he left Rome, never again to return. And when I say left Rome for Goa, remember, not only that the trip would have been long and arduous, but there was no texting or Zooming with friends and family, no phone calls – he was saying good-bye, knowing he would have no possibility of contact or comfort from those he knew and loved save for letters that could take weeks or, more likely, months to arrive.
Francis had unlimited confidence in God, a confidence that allowed him to face obstacles and reversals. He had a level of trust that allowed him to travel wherever he was sent with a sense of joy and enthusiasm. One of his companions said that he never met anyone more filled with faith and hope than Francis Xavier.
He once wrote in a letter to the Jesuits in Europe,
I have decided to go to the Moro Islands to assist the Christians in spiritual matters, exposing myself to every danger of death, placing all my confidence and hope in God our Lord, desiring to conform myself, in keeping with my slight and feeble strength, to the saying of Christ our Redeemer and Lord that ‘whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’
Do we have the level of confidence and trust in God that Francis did?