Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Feast Day Of St. Francis Xavier And An Epiphany About My Name

The family tale about my birth has it that my father, who was a recent graduate from the Jesuit Boston College, had a lot of respect for the Society of Jesus.  So he thought about naming his first born son after the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius De Loyola.  Fortunately, my mother stood firm against that idea, I was named Jonathan Francis Jones.  Now, for a good part of my life, I always assumed that my baptismal name came from St. Francis of Assisi.  Then, when it was learned that the new Pope took the name, Francis, from the Poor Man of Assisi; and not his fellow Jesuit, St Francis Xavier; I had an epiphany.   In what I assumed was a marital compromise, my baptismal name came from Francis Xavier, one of the original Jesuits.

There are similarities between the two saints.  Both men felt called to be evangelizers, to go out and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.  For Francis of Assisi, it was preaching in the streets and marketplaces of Italy.  For Francis Xavier, it was to go out to the foreign shores of Asia.

Pope Francis has addressed a letter to the whole Church, calling all of its members, clergy and laity, to become modern evangelizers.  Maybe we should use this Advent, as a time of preparation, so that, on Christmas morning, we, like the angels, will be proclaiming the glad tidings to the entire world.

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