This week I’d like to take a moment to recognize and celebrate a great and simple woman of Faith, Sr. Josephina Bekita. Josephine Margaret Bakhita, F.D.C.C., was a Sudanese-Italian Canossian religious sister active in Italy for 45 years, after having been a slave in Sudan.
In her simplicity, poverty and suffering Josephina Bekita is a spiritual warrior of great strength. We find and see in Josephine a reminder that we are all vessels that God can use, no matter how simple, no matter if damaged, no matter the amount of suffering God can always transform our brokenness and suffering for His greater Glory! Josephine reminds us:
“The suffering caused by illness is more meritorious than any self inflicted mortification.”
Be good, love the Lord,
pray for those who do not know Him.
What a grace it is to know God!
The Gospel of Mark chapter 1:29 speaks to the spirit of Bekita and the great power that comes from an encounter with Jesus Christ. We find Simon Peter’s mother in-law sick with a fever. She is suffering greatly due to illness. Immediately they tell Jesus about her. We like the Apostles in the Gospel are called to bring our greatest needs and suffering to Jesus. What strikes me is there is no hesitation, there is no doubt, there is clear and direct action. Jesus needs to be informed of the grave illness, He takes her by the hand and Jesus heals, restores and brings her back from the great illness to the strength to serve.
So often when one is sick or ill we may be slow the stepping up and getting up to serve, to provide for others. Like Josephine Bekita, who suffered greatly, and even toward the end of her life suffered from illness, she had the strength to over come to brutal suffering and pain because of her knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ. By any and all means possible lets bring others to Jesus and he transform pain and suffering to wholeness and strength.
What is striking to me about this woman who went from Slavery to Sainthood is that even in her suffering the became a strong resource to help missions in Africa simply by sharing her experience of struggles. She also used her experience to form other women for the mission apostolate. Let Bekita be a model and source of strength for all who seek to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and the power of His great love to move us out of our own pain, our own suffering, our own slavery as it were to great strength and ability to be a transforming force in a world that has so much pain and so much suffering.
It doesn’t take much to see all the pain, hatred, prejudice that happens on a daily basis. From the taunting of immigrants, to the suffering of human trafficking, to the racism, classism, sexism and to complete disregard for those who are different.
Jesus goes on to heal and bring comfort to others: “He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Jesus Leaves Capernaum. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”