(–Hey Jason, ever heard of Hollis Thompson? Come on, buddy!)
Hope you, dear reader, are having a good Syracuse Hate Week. Carolina-Duke? Yawn. Kentucky-Florida? Snooze. Giants-Patriots? Totally three-days-ago.
Some people might have to sit through parish Finance-Council meetings during the contest in the Carrier Dome. Sacrifices have to be made for Jesus. Feel free to text me the score every two or three minutes.
As we know, Pope Benedict wrote an encyclical letter about how Christian hope redeems us. He began his letter by recalling the life of St. Josephine Bakhita:
We who have always lived with the Christian concept of God, and have grown accustomed to it, have almost ceased to notice that we possess the hope that ensues from a real encounter with this God. The example of a saint of our time can to some degree help us understand what it means to [meet] this God for the first time. I am thinking of the African Josephine Bakhita, canonized by Pope John Paul II.
She was born around 1869—she herself did not know the precise date—in Darfur in Sudan. 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…
Finally, in 1882, she was bought by an Italian merchant, 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.
Now she heard that there is a Master 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…
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 was baptized and confirmed and received her first Holy Communion. [Five years later], she took her vows in the Congregation of the Canossian Sisters and 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, which had redeemed her, she could not keep to herself; this hope had to reach many, to reach everybody.
…At every Mass, after the Our Father, we pray that the Lord would protect us from all distress as we await “the blessed hope.” This phrase comes from St. Paul’s letter to Titus, where the Apostle writes, “we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ” (2:13).
St. Josephine lived out in a particularly vivid way the redemption of every Christian. We confidently hope for the coming of Christ, the true Master of all, Who loves us. This certain hope frees us from every slavery.