In her last days, St. Josephine Bakhita cried out in her illness when she relived her days of slavery: "Please, loosen the chains...they are heavy!"
Bakhita's chains were forged by others, but often we wear chains which we make ourselves. The thought reminded me of the scene in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", where Jacob Marley's ghost warns Scrooge of his probable fate:
'I wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost. 'I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it...Oh captive, bound and double-ironed!... Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness!...'
'But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
'Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. 'Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.'"
If we are of the world, we wear the chains with which this world binds us: chains of pride, greed, selfishness, and misery. Christ asks us, instead, to take on his yoke and bear his burden. (Matthew 11:30) Help us, Lord, to throw off the chains which tether us to the world, and, like Bakhita, put on Christ.
St. Josephine Bakhita, pray for us!