February 8, 2021 Monday – Week 5 in Ordinary Time – St Josephine Bakhita, St Jerome Emiliani
February 8, 2021
Monday | Week 5 in Ordinary Time
Feastday of ST JOSEPHINE BAKHITA
The Feast Day of St Josephine Bakhita – the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking is celebrated on 8th February. On this day Catholics are encouraged to pray for all those affected by the crimes of modern slavery and human trafficking, and the people that volunteer and work to eradicate this crime.
St Josephine Bakhita, also known as ‘Mother Moretta’ was kidnapped at the age of nine and sold into slavery. Such was the trauma experienced that she forgot her birth name and her kidnappers gave her the name Bakhita meaning ‘fortunate’. Flogging and maltreatment were part of her daily life. She experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery.
It was only in 1882 that her suffering was alleviated after she was bought for the Italian Consul. This event was to transform her life. In this family and, subsequently in a second Italian home, she received from her masters, kindness, respect, peace and joy.
A change in her owner’s circumstances meant that she was entrusted to the Canossian Sisters and her next fifty years were spent witnessing God’s love through cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door. She was a source of encouragement and her constant smile won people’s hearts, as did her humility and simplicity.
As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness, but she continued to persevere in hope, constantly choosing the good. During her last days she relived the painful days of her slavery and more than once begged: ‘Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!’.
Surrounded by the sisters, she died on 8 February 1947.
February 8 has been designated as a day of prayer, reflection and action to end the injustice of human trafficking.
1st Reading: Genesis 1:1-19
God creates light, sky, earth and sun, moon and stars, in the act of creation
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
Responsorial: Psalm 103:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 24, 35
R./: May the Lord be glad in his works
Bless the Lord, my soul.
Lord God, how great you are,
clothed in majesty and glory,
wrapped in light as in a robe. (R./)
You founded the earth on its base,
to stand firm from age to age.
You wrapped it with the ocean like a cloak:
the waters stood higher than the mountains. (R./)
You make springs gush forth in the valleys:
they flow in between the hills.
On their banks dwell the birds of heaven;
from the branches they sing their song. (R./)
Gospel: Mark 6:53-56
The sick were brought to Jesus and whoever touched him with faith was healed
Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognised him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, the people laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
God’s world and ours
Genesis gives a wide-angle view of the universe as the sanctuary or throne for God’s majestic presence. All religious ceremonies, whether in the Jerusalem temple or on our church altars must keep contact with the physical world of earth and sky, if they are to be reminders of God’s greatness that passes our understanding. But without regular liturgy we can lose sight of God’s mysterious presence in our daily living.
But even in God’s good world there are many dark spots, of sickness, disorder, grief and injustice. In today’s reading from Mark we see the healing touch of Jesus at work, bringing hope and consolation to those who were sick. He calls his followers, ourselves, to be like himself, instruments of God to cleanse and revive our good world. Our efforts of kindness and love extend the range of Jesus’ healing touch; our words of forgiveness and encouragement echo the word of God. We go out as instruments of blessing, at the end of each Eucharistic liturgy, to carry on God’s creative work in our real world.
Even the fringe of his cloak
The gospel highlights the great popularity of Jesus among the ordinary people of Galilee. In particular, he attracted the sick and broken, because God’s healing power was so clearly at work through him. People begged him to let him touch even the fringe of his cloak, as the woman had done who was healed of her flow of blood. The Gospel says that people were hurrying to bring the sick to him. The poor and the needy were especially desperate to get to him and to connect with him.
In our own lives too, it is often in our brokenness that we seek out the Lord with the greatest urgency. Something happens to us that brings home to us our vulnerability, our weakness, our inability to manage. In those situations, when we come face to face with our limitations, we can seek out the Lord with a greater energy and an urgency we don’t normally show. It is those experiences, where we come face to face with our frailties, that bring home to us our need of the Lord and our dependence on him. It is often the darker and more painful experiences of life that open us up to the Lord. When Paul was struggling with his “thorn in the flesh,” he heard the risen Lord say to him, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Our various experiences of weakness can be like gateways through which we reach out to the Lord and the Lord comes to us.