Thursday, 14 February 2019 07:08

People are not for sale, nor for profit


Homily delivered by Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, D.D. during Mass for the International Day of Awareness and Prayer against Human Trafficking at The Manila Cathedral on February 8, 2019.

Today our Church celebrates the memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita. Today is also the International day of Awareness and Prayer for Human Trafficking.

Saint Josephine was a victim of human trafficking, and now as patron saint of those who suffered from human trafficking.  At an early age she was a happy and promising child from Olgossa in the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa.  But she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders and sold her a slave market in El Obeid.  From then on she was sold a dozen times.  She was forced to manual labor, taken as a slave and considered as a disposal property.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Diocese of Balanga delivers his homily during PACOM 4 (Photo by Laureen Camille Jaring)

As a commodity, the young Josephine was bought by a Turkish family where she was cruelly verbally and physically abused.  She was beaten daily as she recalled that as soon as one wound would heal, they would inflict another.

The Turkish general sold her to the Italian vice-consul, Callisto Legani.  The family was kind and compassionate to her.  At the end of the tenure of the vice-consul, Josephine begged then to take her to Italy.

She was given away to another family.  When her new family decided to return to Sudan because of business dealings, Josephine was given to the custody of Canossian sisters in Venice.  And there she was introduced to God, baptized Josephine and later on became religious sister. On the evening of February 8, 1947, Josephine spoke her last words, “Our Lady, Our Lady.”

She was raised to the altar of God on October 1, 2000, as Saint Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of Sudan.

In today’s gospel, a young girl, the daughter of Herodias was used and abused to perform a dance for her birthday of King Herod (v21).  They took advantage of her innocence for the personal interest and for their political benefits.

From the bitter experience of Saint Josephine as human trafficked, sold and became slave and from the unnamed daughter in today’s gospel, we can conclude that it is not age which lead then to pain or sin but the people behind them.  It is the people around them who made them suffered or forced them to do bad things. And it is very tragic and ironic these were the people from their and house and in the government offices.

Children are not for sale. People are more important than profits.  Children are not commodity. People are not objects, nor tools for pleasure they are human persons. Children are precious. Children are precious, very special and so important. They are for us God’s gift.

Life is sacred. Life should always be spared and saved. We don’t sacrifice life. We do sacrifices for life. Pope Francis says “let us pray loudly because there are children that are hungry, that are thirsty, don’t have medicine and their live in danger.”

And so together with our common prayers is our united effort to protect them, to promote their rights and prevent them from anyone or anything that will destroy their future and lives. Who are they? These two kinds of people mentioned in today’s gospel.

1. Modern day Herod, those who misused and abused their power and position

2. Modern day Herodias, those who have not been true to their divine calling as parents and guardians to their children.

First. They are the new Herod, who just to prolong their terms and tenures will spread fake news and will never speak of truth, nor to defend it.  They are those, who just to stay in power and acquire privileges will sacrifice morality.

Authority is given to us for the service of our people.  Service to our people is to protect them from death and destruction, to preserve and promote their rights and dignity. God gives and takes away. There is no absolute power. Only God is absolute. We are all responsible before God.  We will give accounting to Him. And God will surely ask us “where is your brother?” (Genesis 4, 9).

Second. They are new Herodias, who just to continue illicit ways and immoral dealings are willing not only to endanger their children but will force them to commit sin. Thus reflecting deeper it is not the children whom they have to arrest and label as in conflict with the law but those who trafficked them for drugs, sex and human organs. Those who have to be investigated, prosecuted and punished are those who do abortions, those who made children suffered due to shameful Dengvaxia vaccines, and those who made use of their children to beg along streets.

Indeed it is very tragic and so saddening that those who are in power and even parents do and decide again for another “head of Saint John the Baptist” (Mark 6, 24).

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