Life offers us no easy answers. Neither does our Christian faith. The answers we seek usually come in the form of more questions, such as: when does suffering end for us? What happiness can we hope to find here in this life?
St. Josephine Bakhita had these same questions a century ago; was her entrance into religious life an escape from her harsh past, or was it her new reality - an answer in the person of Jesus Christ? I suspect the latter. If you want to run from your problems, don't become a Christian - ours is not a faith to hide from the world in; that's not what Bakhita did. The true presence of Christ brought her face-to-face with her suffering and asked the most difficult thing of her: forgiveness.
"If I was to meet those slave raiders that abducted me and those who tortured me, I'd kneel down to them to kiss their hands, because, if it had not been for them, I would not have become a Christian and religious woman." Those are not the saccharine words of someone who quivered beneath her veil. They are the pain-filled, sober words of a strong woman whose faith conquered all.
"What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:31-38)
Our faith in Christ invites us all to be conquerors of whatever reality we may face. May God grant us the strength of this noble daughter of the Sudan.
St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us!