Homily at the Mass of Blessed Josephine Bakhita

Pope St. John Paul II




Green Square, Khartoum (Sudan)
Wednesday, 10 February 1993


“Come to me, all you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11: 28).

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Sudan,

1. In every age and place, these words of our Lord Jesus Christ have been a source of untold strength and consolation for Christians. Especially in times of trial and suffering, men and women, even young children, have experienced in their hearts the powerful presence of the Saviour, speaking these words to them and teaching them the mystery of his saving death on the Cross. “Let us be confident then in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help” (Hebr. 4: 16).

One of the people to whom the lesson of the Cross brought incomparable strength amid all kinds of sufferings was Blessed Josephine Bakhita, a daughter of this land. Today, in Khartoum, in the Sudan, in Africa, the whole Church in communion with the Successor of Peter turns to Blessed Bakhita and implores her intercession for the Bishops, priests, Religious and laity of this land: for Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Khartoum; for Archbishop Paulinus Lukudu and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Juba; for the Pastors and faithful of the Dioceses of El Obeid, Malakal, Rumbek, Tombura–Yambio, Torit, Wau and Yei.

2. Was it not a moment of refreshment and renewal, offered by Christ the Good Shepherd to the whole Catholic community of the Sudan, when, in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, Josephine Bakhita was elevated to glory among the Blessed of the Church? She thus became a model of virtue and holiness of life for Christians. To religious believers everywhere she speaks of the value of reconciliation and love, for in her heart she overcame any feelings of hatred for those who had harmed her. She learned from the tragic events of her life to have complete trust in the Almighty who is always and everywhere present, and therefore she learned to be constantly good and generous to everyone (Cf. John Paul II, Address on the occasion of the Beatification of Josephine Bakhita, 18 May 1992). Her Beatification was an act of respect not only for her but also for the Sudan, since a daughter of this land was put forward as a hero of mercy and of goodwill. God used her to teach us all the meaning of Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Mt. 5: 9).

Jesus says: “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned” (Ibid. 11: 25). With these words Christ blesses the simplicity of Bakhita, a child, like you, of this land. Through her simplicity and endless trust she embodied, on the via dolorosa of her life, that wisdom which comes from God himself, the wisdom which belongs to the Saints.

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