I am the proud owner of a series of four catechumenate books in Swahili. They were given to me by a religious Sister from Congo who attended a workshop I gave a couple of years ago in the Bronx. My Swahili is basically non-existent, yet I love these books.
Part of what attracts me are the illustrations. They are simple but eloquent line drawings illustrating stories from the Gospel. Here is the one for the story of Pentecost from the Acts of the Apostles. The people do not seem inert as the Spirit falls down on them. They are being blown away!
There are many charming pictures in these books. In their simplicity, they make the gospel come to life as it must indeed come to life—within the very people who receive it.
I share this picture for two reasons. First, as a reminder that the “hearers of the word” live in all parts of the globe. In this case, Africa. Congo. The catechumenate too is not only here in the US. It belongs to Africa and Asia and Oceania as well as to the Americas and Europe. People are being “blown away” by the gospel of Jesus Christ every day, and the catechumenate is the Church’s way of joining hands and hearts with them as the Spirit lifts our sails.
Second, I post this as witness to God’s grace transcending boundaries. I do not know Swahili. But as I pore over these pages, I discover words that I understand, such as Yesu Kristu (Jesus Christ) and Mama Maria (Mother Mary) and eklezya (church). I see pictures with all African faces and clothing, and yet I recognize the people because I share their story. The gospel belongs to all of us, equally. That’s a bit of Pentecost to me.
[The book: Maamini, published by the Centre Interdiocesain de pastorale, catéchèse et liturgie B.P. 162 Bukavu, edited by the Missionary Society of Saint Paul for the diocese of Uvira. Illustration found on page 218.]