MEDITATION OF THE DAY
Recognizing the Healer
To come to know God—the true God—means to receive hope. The example of a saint of our time can help us understand what it means. At the age of nine, Josephine Bakhita 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…. Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant for the Italian consul Callisto Legnani, who returned to Italy…. Here, after the terrifying masters who had owned her up to that point, Bakhita came to know a totally different kind of “master”—in Venetian dialect, which she was now learning, she used the name paron for 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. Now, however, she heard that there is a paron above all masters, the 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. She too was loved, and by none other than the supreme Paron, before whom all other masters are themselves no more than lowly servants. She was known and loved and she was awaited. 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.” Through the knowledge of this hope she was redeemed, no longer a slave, but a free child of God. She understood what Paul meant when he reminded the Ephesians that previously they were without hope and without God in the world—without hope because without God….
On December 8, 1896, she took her vows in the Congregation of the Canossian Sisters and from that time onwards…she made several journeys around Italy in order to promote the missions: the liberation that she had received through her encounter with the God of Jesus Christ, 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 she could not keep to herself; this hope had to reach many, to reach everybody.
Pope Benedict XVI
His Holiness Benedict XVI reigned as pope from 2005 to 2013. / From Spe Salvi #3, Libreria Editrice Vaticana translation. Used with permission of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. www.vatican.va.