Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Ignatius’ admonition to make a composition of place, that is, imagine what a scene from the scriptures would look like in our imaginations, would enable us easily to visualize the scene from today’s gospel. We can easily imagine a hillside with hundreds of people and no food. Jesus asks those around him what they do have and someone comes up with a few peanut butter sandwiches and half a candy bar. Jesus blesses this frugal offering, shares what he has, and from this comes enough to feed everyone present. A little turned out to be a lot.
Today is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the companion of Ignatius and the founder of the Jesuit missionary enterprise in Asia. Did you know that he was the second choice of Ignatius for the job? When we look at the enormity of the project against the presence of one man we are reminded of today’s reading which positioned a small bundle of food as a response to 5,000 on the hillside. And yet Xavier sailed through the waters of Asia establishing Christian churches which became the seedbeds for the vital church which we see today.
The example from the gospel and from today’s great Jesuit saint is the same message that Jesus gives us in the parable of the mustard seed. That parable, and others, remind us that the best means of success is often small but have the potential of becoming something beautiful for God.