Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Weekly Papal General Audience 10.11.2023


Pope at Audience: St. Josephine Bakhita's life reveals God's grace

During his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continues his catechesis series dedicated to apostolic zeal, applauding St. Josephine Bakhita, whose life revealed the power of God’s grace to transform lives, and appeals for prayers for Sudan.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

"St. Josephine Bakhita, with her example," Pope Francis said, "shows us the way to finally be free of our slavery and fears," "to unmask our hypocrisies and selfishness, to overcome resentments and conflicts," "to reconcile with ourselves and find peace in our families and communities," and "offers us a light of hope in these difficult times of mistrust and distrust of others."

Pope Francis offered this reminder as he reflected on the Sudanese saint during his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter's Square, continuing his catechesis series on figures in the Church who have embodied apostolic zeal, turning once again to the African continent.

'Let us pray for people of Sudan'

The Holy Father began by recalling the saint's origins in Sudan.

"Sadly, for months Sudan has been torn apart by a terrible armed conflict about which little is said today. Let us pray for the Sudanese people, that they may live in peace!"

“Sadly, for months Sudan has been torn apart by a terrible armed conflict about which little is said today. Let us pray for the Sudanese people, that they may live in peace!”

In spite of this suffering, the Holy Father insisted, St. Bakhita's fame has crossed all borders and reached all those who are denied identity and dignity, as he urged faithful to be inspired by the "powerful witness" of St. Bakhita and her testimony.

Never despaired despite unspeakable suffering

Born in Darfur, Sudan, the Pope recalled, Josephine was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery.  Despite the violence and terrible sufferings she endured, he observed, she never despaired. 

The Holy Father recalled how the crucifix sustained her, noting that one day her guardian gave her a small crucifix, and she, who had never possessed anything, kept it as "a treasure."

In Christ's Cross, the Holy Father suggested, she discovered the source" of a merciful love that affirms our innate dignity as God’s children," brings "true freedom" and enables us "to forgive and indeed love those who wrong us."

Devoted herself to Christ

The experience of God’s mercy and forgiveness, the Pope underscored, inspired Josephine to devote herself to Christ as a religious, and to serve others humbly and selflessly in her new country of Italy. 

The life of Saint Josephine Bakhita, he recalled, "reveals the power of God’s grace to transform lives," "to resolve conflicts" and to bring about "justice, reconciliation and peace so greatly needed in our time."

Need for forgiveness and peace

"Dear brothers and sisters," the Pope said, "forgiveness does not take anything away but adds dignity to the person. It makes us look from ourselves to others, to see them as fragile as we are, but always brothers and sisters in the Lord."

"Forgiveness," he continued, "is the source of a zeal that becomes mercy and calls to a humble and joyful holiness, like that of St. Bakhita."

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