Daily Reflection
December 3rd, 2007

Tom Shanahan, S.J.

University Relations and Theology Department
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Francis Xavier was an up-and-coming professor of philosophy at the University of Paris when Ignatius Loyola met the twenty-four year old. He had the whole world in front of him when Ignatius posed Jesus’ radical question to him one day, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matthew 16:26) Ignatius had seen the grand talent of the man and the question proved decisive for him. He was gradually turned from fine scholar to dedicated saint and spent his life in bringing Christ to the Far East.

The way that I have always heard this account of Ignatius challenging Xavier with the gospel quotation is that the question literally stopped Francis in his tracks and refocused his life. It was truly an encounter with Christ and it made all the difference in the world for his later apostolic life.

We can discover similar experiences of encountering Christ or God calling us into life and action in our own experiences as well. They may not be as dramatic or as decisive as Ignatius’ question to Xavier, but they are nonetheless grace-filled. I need to be attentive to these encounters so that I can be led to respond effectively to the call contained in the encounter with Christ.

The response to Ignatius’ question transformed Francis in his ultimate vocation as Apostle to the Indies. I can only imagine that there were numerous encounters like this with Christ; His call, and His word for Francis as he carried out his life day to day. And, likewise it is for us: rich, quiet, decisive, life-affirming nudges in the direction of bringing Christ into our world.

My prayer for us today is that we can be aware and eager to respond to these invitations from Christ as we grow into His life in our vocation to whatever or to wherever they lead us. The encounter may be contained in a question from a dear friend, in an even chance encounter with another, in a situation in my life that stops me in my tracks, or in the day to day experiences that beckon me on towards the life that God desires give me.
Lord, give me ears to hear your voice and courage to respond with joy.

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