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May 3, 2015

5TH Sunday of Easter

 mp 13Bénédite de la Roncière, Nigeria, Africa, “The Empty Tomb”


First Reading: Acts 9: 26-31
“Saul had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples… Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them
how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.”

Second Reading: 1 Jn 3: 18-24
“…let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

Gospel: Jn 15: 1-8
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.… My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”


mp 14The BAOBAB TREE withstands the elements, and just when it appears to have died during full drought, it is precisely then that it blooms, granting joy to the heart and to the spirit, right in the middle of the desert.In Africa, when a life is conceived, news of the pregnancy is not disclosed right away, but remains a closely guarded secret until the time when others cannot help but notice it. The birth of a child is received as a gift from God, with great joy and as an act of grace, because everyone knows that in giving life you risk losing your own. Life is protected, defended, and nourished, both upon arrival and at its departure, because life is eternal. In almost all beliefs, in any religion, there is hope in a life after death, as the Senegalese poet Birago Diop sings when he says:

« The dead are not dead
They have never left
They are in the tree that quivers
They are in the woods that groan
They are in the water that flows
They have never left
They are in the tree that quivers
They are in the woods that groan
They are in the water that flows
Listen to things more often than beings »…

Often when we visit our cemeteries, we find containers, bottles of drinks, flowers, while in other traditions the deceased is buried with all of
the clothes he wore during his life, and many more. We Christians have a name for this Life: RESURRECTION seeing as resurrected Christ told us: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, will live…”
And often we women religious hear this thought expressed to us: “Thanks to you, sisters, we believe in the resurrection Because if there were nothing after death, then you would have done as everyone else, Instead we see how your entire life is focused on God And on serving your neighbor.”
The Gospel of the Fifth Sunday of Easter speaks to us about grapevines. As the grapevine is not known in Africa, we can think of other trees, similar to the vine, that require care so that life can carry on.

The reading of the Acts of the Apostles tells us about the first visit of Paul to the community of Jerusalem after his conversion. Barnabas is represented as an elder, that is to say as a respected person. The community listens to him and has faith in his story about Paul: in this same way, in our country, we give ample space to the wisdom of our elders as we are certain that they possess beautiful treasures of life experiences that can be passed on to the younger generations.

mp 15Karen Thomas, Germany “The Dance of the Angels”As Apostles of the Resurrection, we are called to be women and men standing ready to run to proclaim the message of Easter: the LIFE by way of our various ministries, with a sense of great peace and joy that the risen Christ grants to us. Like the picture of our African savannas where life is born and flourishes, we are women and men who give life and who allow it to flourish,
especially when that life is wounded.

 Have I experienced that, by God’s grace, my life is able to bloom precisely when my spirit is in the middle of the desert?

How can I, and how can we, make life bloom, especially when it is wounded?


Closing Prayer

Risen Lord, teach us to hope for and to believe in life after death. Teach us to stand “on our feet” and “to run” to announce your Gospel. Teach us to make life bloom everywhere, in all its nuances and in every situation. Amen.


Contributed by the Senegalese Area

Published: May, 1, 2015