It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees (Psalm119:71).
St. Josephine Bakhita was canonized on 1st October 2000 by Pope John Paul II. Born in Sudan in the year 1869 she underwent a lot of hardship after her kidnappers sold her as a slave as a child. She was freed from her slavery after she went through several years of trials and tribulations and later on she joined a convent. A few years later one of the sisters in that convent asked her, “Mother if your kidnappers and tormenters were to come in front of you now, how would you behave?” She smiled gently and replied, “I would touch their feet and thank them, because if they had not kidnapped me and caused troubles pain in my life, I would not have experienced the love of Christ.
Jesus said to his disciples, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mathew 16:24). Jesus tells his disciples, the only qualification needed for us to follow him is to take up our daily cross with gladness. When we say that we are the followers of Jesus, the very question Jesus asks us is, “where is your cross?” So there may be people who prepare cross for us, who crucify us and even those who tease us when we are crucified. In such experiences we must be able to discern that God is using these people to help us to lead a worthy Christian life by following Jesus with our daily cross. It is only then the verse uttered by Jesus at the time of crucifixion, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34) will assume meaning in our lives.
Let the knowledge that nothing takes place in our lives without the knowledge of God be a comfort in our times of trials and tribulations. Let the words of St Paul be a constant reminder to us: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Fr Prince Chakkalayil CST