John de Britto was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1647.
He was dedicated at birth to St. Francis Xavier, and his family was known to the king at that time, King Pedro. He entered the Society of Jesus at the age of fifteen. In his effort to promote education among the native Indian people as a missionary to Goa, he wandered through Malabar and other regions and even adopted the customs and dress of the Brahmin caste which gave him access to the noble classes. His dress was yellow cotton; he abstained from every kind of animal food and from wine in an effort to be one with the people he wished to serve.
In 1683, John de Britto had to leave India but returned in 1691. He advised Teriadeven, a Maravese to dismiss the many wives he had and keep only one. However, one of Teriadeven’s wives was the niece of the king. Due to this, John de Britto began to be persecuted. In 1693, he was taken to the capital Ramnad and from there led to Oriyur a small village in Tamil Nadu, where he was tortured and put to death by beheading.
He had wrought many conversions during his life, established many stations, and was famous for his miracles before and after his death.
He was beatified in 1853 and was canonized in 1947.
The Gospel text is from the ending of the first part of the Gospel of John. In these verses, Jesus realises that with the coming of Greeks his hour of glorification has indeed come. His intention was to bring together all peoples and this is an indication that he will do it through his death.
The general meaning of the parable of the grain of wheat that dies is clear from the context: Jesus is speaking of death as the means of gaining life. Indeed, in its present sequence after the coming of the Greeks, it is meant to refer to Jesus’ death as the means of bringing life to all people.
In the second "Passion and Resurrection" prediction in John, the result of Jesus' being lifted up is that he will draw all peoples to himself. Even when the world crucifies its Lord, he will not condemn them, but will treat them as beloved and as his own.
In a world in which the resonating message is to “have more”, it is not always easy to speak and live Jesus’ message to “be more”. Those who do this are labelled as crazy and out of touch with reality. John de Britto was not afraid to do this and was ready to face the consequences. He was ready because he knew his Lord and was confident of his love. This is why he was able to stand up for the truth till the very end.