Daily Reflection
February 18th, 2000
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
Rector, Jesuit Community
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James 2:14-24, 26
Psalms 112:1-6
Mark 8:34--9:1

In our Jesuit lore it is said that Ignatius had trouble in bringing home his message to Francis Xavier while they were students together.  The ice broke when Ignatius brought out the text that is part of our gospel today. 

Apparently that was the clincher.  After reflecting on this passage, Francis threw in his lot with Ignatius and the other early companions.  And we know the rest of the story.  Francis Xavier went to the Far East and brought Christianity there.  He became a tireless apostle for Christ's message.

What's in a passage like that (What profit . . . to gain whole world . . . lose one's soul)?  It is an awakening to the depths of the reality of God in my life.  Through reflection on it, with God's grace, Francis was able to realize the great love of God that filled his heart.  Does this mean that the question (and answer) is only for the great saints like Xavier and Ignatius?  By no means! 

It is a question that we need to ask ourselves seriously often in our lives; it's not one of those questions that we can say, "I've already answered that!"   It strikes me as the same kind of a question that Jesus asks the disciples as he approached Jerusalem and his final days there, "Who do you say that I am?" 

Let us, like Francis Xavier, hear the question deeply, ponder it thoughtfully, and respond from the depths of our hearts.  To respond adequately (as Francis did) we need God's spirit and love to inform and to form us through this important question as well as our ongoing answer.

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