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February 8

FOCUS:  Seeking the Lord, finding him, and abiding with him are gifts of faith.


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1 Kings 11:4-13

Psalm 106

Mark 7:24-30

Each and every person is special to God. We see that today in our gospel passage and in the lives of the saints whose feast day is today – St. Fr. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita. In our gospel today, Jesus is in Tyre, a very wealthy area that was inhabited by pagans and Israelites, and of course families that included pagans and Israelites – so the house Jesus entered was likely pagan – a big no no for Jews.

The very act of a pagan mother approaching Jesus is significant. The response Jesus first gives her is Jesus calling on her to leave behind her pagan idols and recognize that there is only one God. With the reply the woman gives, Jesus sees her new realization that leaving all else behind, it is her faith that will bring miracles.

Just as the suffering of the Greek woman and her daughter brought them to a new realization of God, the sufferings of our two saints today brings them to a new realization of God. St. Fr. Jerome Emiliani passed to eternal life in 1537 AD. He had been a military commander in Venice when Venice was overthrown, He was chained to a dungeon wall where he began to reflect on God – a God for whom he used to think he had little need. That suffering changed his whole perspective and after escaping he cared for orphans.

St. Josephine Bakhita had her own jail – the prison of slavery. St. Josephine was born in 1869 AD in Sudan, kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1877 AD. She was beaten and tortured regularly by her Turkish owners. Her mistress gave her 114 scars by cutting her and rubbing salt in her wounds to ensure there would be a scar. In 1833 AD she ended up with an Italian family who was good to her where she moved from knowing of God, to actually knowing God. As the years passed, she was given her freedom and as a nun, serving others and preparing her fellow sisters for missionary work in Sudan. In her talks, she thanked her kidnappers for the struggles and pain she had as it led her to God.

We all have struggles in our lives in some way or another. What’s yours? Betting it is easy to identify. How can you let that struggle bring you closer to our Lord?

Remember to smile at God today!

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