Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Witness of Saint Josephine Bakhita

Today we celebrate a woman who was empowered by the love of God, and who gives hope to all powerless women, abused women, trafficked women - to oppressed women and men throughout the world. 

She was abducted from her African village and native people of South Sudan in the latter half of the 19th century. She never remembered her birth name, but the Arab slave traders had called her "Bakhita," which means "lucky." 

There was nothing that looked lucky about the horrible abuse and mutilation that she suffered for years as a slave in Northern Sudan, but then she was brought to Italy, found Christ, and was baptized Giuseppina Fortunata ("lucky"). She became a religious sister and for 40 years worked at the convent and among the people simply but with profound charity. She not only forgave her oppressors, but said she would kiss their hands if she saw them, because they brought her to Jesus.

Jesus overcame evil with good, hatred and violence with the love beyond all measure, the love of God poured out and given to free us from sin, to free us to share in eternal life - to attain the joy for which every human person was made.

Jesus gave Bakhita her true freedom, and formed within her a heart overflowing with mercy and compassion. 

Saint Josephine Bakhita, you have a lot to pray for. We need you. Pray for an end to violence, human trafficking, and child abuse. Pray for South Sudan, for those suffering persecutions, hunger, the ravages of war in Africa and through the world, for an end to all forms of slavery, for respect for the dignity and beauty of every woman and every man, for the perseverence to never give up searching for God's will, and trusting in him when he shows us the way. Pray for us, that we might love and forgive our enemies out of the conviction that God loves us and them, and orders everything in his wisdom and mercy to the good.