When God created the world and human kind, it did not happen in a haphazard way. God formed and created every living being with the utmost attention, love and care. Every being is unique. St Paul says, ‘We are God’s work of art created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning God had meant us to live it.’ (Eph. 2: 10).
However, since the beginning of creation the uniqueness of each being in the web of life does not receive the respect and the dignity God desired. Every living thing in the web of life is interdependent and interconnected and is precious in God’s eyes. God invited human beings to be good stewards of creation.
Pope Francis writes and speaks very plainly on social degradation, the destruction of the planet, infringement of human rights and lack of dignity for the human person. In his encyclical on Fraternity and Social Friendship, Fratelli Tutti (FT), he called racism a ‘virus that quickly mutates, and instead of disappearing, goes into hiding and lurks in waiting. (no. 97).’ Pope Francis regularly denounces slavery and human trafficking and all forms of abuse, violence and denial of human rights.
This day the Church sets aside as the ‘International Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking.’ Recently, Pope Francis sent a message to The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Argentina to mark the ‘World Day against Trafficking in Persons’, where he described modern day slavery as ‘a scourge that wounds the dignity of our weakest brothers and sisters.’ Disturbed by the fact that human trafficking leaves people denied ‘from experiencing the fullness of their unique and unrepeatable humanity’ he condemned ‘the utilitarian perspective that views others according to the criteria of convenience and personal gain.’
The reading proclaimed at Mass today tells the familiar story of the first four days of God’s work of creation (Genesis 1:1-19). God saw that everything that he made was good. God wanted to give God’s people the best of everything. The psalmist in Psalm 103, honours the works of the Lord and the assembly of people respond, ‘May the Lord rejoice in his works!’
How can the Lord rejoice in his works in a ‘throwaway’ culture where ‘slavery is rooted in a notion of the human person that allows him or her to be treated as an object… where persons are deprived of their freedom, sold and reduced to being the property of others.’? (Fratelli Tutti, no.24).
Every living thing is a work of God’s creation. God is the source of all life. God reveals Godself in the gift of life and the psalmist asks, ‘How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?’ There are ways to give thanks to God by noticing and celebrating God’s goodness, through loving God and neighbour as brother or sister. God’s people can pray, read the psalms, praise the work of creation, be a good steward of creation and follow Jesus’ teaching on love. The readings today give many ideas of how humankind can show appreciation to God by acknowledging God’s gifts and nurturing all God created.
Let’s pray with the Pope to commit ourselves ‘to the total eradication of this scourge’ and ‘to pledge support to assist survivors and collaborate decisively in building paths that lead to the common good and the full realization of human life.’
We can ask God through St Josephine Bakhita (1868-1947) to help those who are trafficked and for those who commit this crime. We can ask her to heighten our awareness of all that is happening in the world. Josephine Bakhita is a native of Sudan. Sent as a slave to Italy, she became a Christian and later she joined the Institute of the Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice.
VERITAS publications gives free access to all the online resources for the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé Religious Education Programme for Catholic Primary Schools including the Children’s Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé e-book.
Pray: Pope Francis Prayer
- Read what God created in the first four days of the Creation Story. Read from your Bible, Genesis 1: 1-19, or from the Grow Love/ I nGrá Dé textbook or e-book
- Read in your Bible from the Book of Exodus about slavery in Egypt
- Articles from The Declaration of Human Rights are outlined in the Grow in Love/ I nGrá Dé, Sixth Class programme. Read Articles 1, 2, 3, 13, 17, 25, 26, and 29.
- Find out more about St Josephine Bakhita and the country of Sudan
- Draw some animals, flowers, trees and insects, created by God. Write a psalm, which is a prayer of thanks
Fact: Each year, around 2.5 million people are victims of trafficking and slavery.
Sr Anne Neylon