Slave Set Free
8 February 2018
St. Josephine Bakhita was born in 1869 and died in 1947. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II. We celebrate her feast today. Pope Benedict XVI deeply admired this woman. He wrote:
At the age of nine, she was kidnapped by slave-traders, beaten till she bled, and sold five times in the slave-markets of Sudan.
Eventually she found herself working as a slave for the mother and the wife of a general, and there she was flogged every day till she bled; as a result of this she bore 144 scars throughout her life.
Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant who returned to Italy. Here Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of “master” who is Lord of all lords, and that this Lord is good, goodness in person. She came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her — that he actually loved her. What is more, this “master” had himself accepted the destiny of being flogged and now he was waiting for her “at the Father’s right hand.”
Now she had “hope” — no longer simply the modest hope of finding masters who would be less cruel, but the great hope: “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me — I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.”
Many who read the Living Word have suffered, are suffering, will suffer. True enough, we may not have been slaves, but we cannot escape the reality of suffering, not just pain, but suffering.
Furthermore, we have a God who has suffered. Yes, we have a “master” who has “himself accepted the destiny of being flogged.”
He is with us every step of the way and He awaits us. We are “slaves set free.”