Praising God and enjoying favor with all the people (Acts 2, 47)
Rather than impose, brightness attracts. Whoever imposes admits he is not attractive.
St. Francis Xavier attracted many people. Children were not afraid of him. The large number of people who showed up hungering for the Christian religion left the missionary convinced of the truth, communicated later to St. Ignatius: “Many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians simply because there is nobody to make them so.” Xavier wanted to make the rounds of European universities, shouting, like a mad man, at those who are more learned than charitable: “How sad that many souls are being shut out of heaven because of your negligence.”
A lament of sorts is found in a letter of St. Vincent de Paul to François du Coudray. The latter wanted to remain in Rome in order to translate the Syriac bible into Latin. The saint advised him to imagine himself before millions of souls pleading with him, with their hands outstretched: “Ah, Father du Coudray, you who have been chosen from all eternity by God’s providence to be our second savior, have pity on us who are mired in ignorance of the things necessary for our salvation and in the sins we have never dared to confess, and who, without your help, will surely be damned” (Coste I, 252). Was the saint remembering perhaps what happened in Folleville on January 25, 1617? Because so many went to confession that day, partnership with Jesuits became necessary.
The Church must be attractive to wake up the world (Pope Francis). But do we have Xavier’s zeal for the greater glory of God, his concern for souls and his foolishness for Christ? Like St. Vincent, do we put our trust in Providence or do we rely too much on ourselves? He always gave thanks and credit to God, admitting himself to be only capable of spoiling everything because of his inadequacies and sins. His simplicity made clear he was approachable. Both saints were radiant because of their contemplation of Jesus.
Do we, moreover, look for partners, not considering ourselves the only ones equipped for God’s projects, not flattering ourselves with “I and no one else”? Do we invite at various times of the day those who stand idle because no one hires them? Do we let those who are already with us get disappointed because we keep urging them to repent, but without emphasizing either the kingdom of God or the calling to go around neighborhoods in order to teach, preach and heal, the alternative to what they have renounced?
And finally are these Pauline words ours: “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your sakes”? For we are all the more attractive, and contribute more to the elimination of divisions, the more we show ourselves ready to give up our body and shed our blood, in imitation of the one who affirmed, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”