In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI recalls the story of Josephine Bakhita, who endured more than her share of unjust calamities:

‘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. . . . 

[A]fter escaping the terrifying ‘masters’ who had owned her up to that point, Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of ‘master’—the living God, the God of Jesus Christ. Up to that time she had known only masters who despised and maltreated her, or at best considered her a useful slave. 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.’1

After being freed from slavery, she reached out to serve out of love rather than fear.

‘The liberation that she had received through her encounter with the God of Jesus Christ,’ writes the pope, 

‘She felt she had to extend, it had to be handed on to others, to the greatest possible number of people. The hope born in her which had ‘redeemed’ her she could not keep to herself; this hope had to reach many, to reach everybody.’

Christopher Kaczor

 

Edited and adapted from ‘Man needs Hope to Live’ by Dr. Christopher Kaczor. https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/man-needs-hope-to-live dated 12 October 2011.
1 Spe Salvi,3.

 


This article can be found in Mirror 0417.