Thought for the Day – 4 February – The Memorial of St John de Britto SJ (1647-1693) Martyr
We are called to serve.
Excerpt from the
EUCHARISTIC CELEBRATION IN HONOUR OF ST JOHN DE BRITTO
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
Wednesday, 5 February 1986
“Let the peoples praise you, O God,
let all the peoples praise you” .
Saint John de Britto, whom we are remembering in today’s liturgical celebration, was born in Lisbon in 1647. After entering the Society of Jesus he followed the footsteps of Saint Francis Xavier to India where he chose to work for the humble and needy in what was then called the Madurai Mission. His patient labours, selfless zeal and genuine love for the poor, won for him their confidence. Like Jesus he was “a sign of contradiction” and his success created jealousy and opposition. As a result, John de Britto died a martyr on 4 February 1693, bearing witness to Christ.
…Saint John de Britto’s life faithfully reflected the life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for it was a life of service unto death. Today it challenges all of us to continue with fresh vigour the Church’s role of loving service to humanity. The immense and tender love of Jesus Christ for the poor and the downtrodden, for sinners and the suffering, remains a challenge for every Christian. Christ’s unrelenting stand for truth is a compelling example. Above all, the generosity shown in His suffering and death, as the culmination of His service to humanity and the supreme act of Redemption, is the example for us. We are called to serve.
There can be no authentic Christian life without an effective love of our fellow human beings. At the closing of the Vatican Council Pope Paul VI affirmed that ” if… in the face of every man, especially when this face is made transparent by his tears and suffering, we can and must, recognise the face of Christ … and in the face of Christ, we can and must, recognise, the face of our heavenly Father, … then our humanism becomes a Christianity and our Christianity becomes theocentric. And thus we can also say – to know God, it is necessary, to know man.”
Today we live at a time of history when peace and harmony between nations and races is constantly threatened. Division and hatred, fear and frustration – these are among the counter-values of our day. The message of love in Christ Jesus in urgently needed. Hence, the Church’s task of proclaiming the Gospel and of being at the service of society is supremely relevant in India today. This task requires the active collaboration of all sectors of the ecclesial community, especially the laity.
…Through the testimony of your lives, through your words and deeds, the word of God is made known to the minds and hearts of others who seek Him, so that “they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory” – that “they may obtain salvation”!
Brothers and sisters, if we die with Christ, we shall live also with Him, “if we endure, we shall also reign with him” .
Christ – Shepherd, Prophet and Priest – has sealed our hearts with His call just as He touched the hearts of the apostles, the hearts of Saint Thomas, Saint Francis Xavier and Saint John de Britto. May they intercede for the Church in India, for this beloved country and its people!
We will be happy if we remain faithful. For He, Christ, is faithful – “He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself” .
Brothers and sisters, you are called to be living witnesses to Christ, living witnesses to God’s word, living witnesses to the saving message of love and mercy that Christ revealed to the world. Amen.