St Josephine Bakhita
Sister Dorothy Stang
Archbishop John Wilson preached this homily on Racial Justice Sunday in February, but it’s message is also particularly telling at Eastertide.
Dear friends, if we think that racism is a thing of the past, then suddenly we need to think again.
It’s a present reality in our communities.
I was shocked the year before last. I met with a group of young women students from a school in our diocese, and I was shocked to listen to their experience of racism.
Through comments, through insults, through slurs, through discrimination, alive and present today.
Racism is not a thing of the past, and therefore we cannot be silent about it. We cannot be silent about its existence, and we cannot be silent about its causes.
We must unite in Christ with other people of goodwill. We must unite in Christ, to work for justice. To speak out for equality for every person no matter what the colour of their skin is, no matter what language they speak. No matter where they come from, no matter what they look like.
My friends, it is our mission to continue to make our parishes and schools places where the gifts and the skills and the experience and the heritage of all people of every background honoured and valued and cherished and celebrated.
We have in our church some inspiring examples of people who have spoken out, spoken out against slavery and work to overcome the sufferings of those enslaved. I want to name just two today. There are many others we need to learn of them because they’re truly inspirational.
The first is perhaps more familiar to us.
Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese woman sold into slavery and eventually brought to Rome where she was cared for by a community of religious sisters.
And she developed her own Christian faith and joined a religious community. She was such an outstanding example of what it means to live the values of the kingdom that in the year 2000 She was made a saint – Saint Josephine Bakhita.
I think of someone perhaps very few of us maybe only one other in this church today will know the name of Sister Dorothy Stang.
An American Sister of Notre Dame, who was martyred 17 years ago yesterday, the 12th of February 2005.
Why was she martyred? Because she upheld the rights and the dignity of indigenous peoples in Brazil.
The voices of all those in our church who have defended and protected people of different racial and cultural backgrounds, those voices must be alive in us. They must be.
Are we one in Christ?
Are we one in Christ? We are one in Christ who is risen. Christ who is risen, who has overcome death, who has conquered sin and therefore we are people of hope. Are we not – people of hope? And as people as hope, one in Christ, we are committed to working side by side to consign racism to history.
And so, we pledge today, to continue journeying together into the future.
One in Christ and one with each other.
Watch the homily: www.facebook.com/ArchdioceseOfSouthwark/videos/1104318056808474