Caroline Mbonu, HHCJ, Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union, is a member of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus. She is presently a senior lecturer in the department of Religious and Cultural Studies at University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. An interdisciplinary scholar, she employs Scripture, African religious traditions and economics to seek insights into improving women’s participation in social processes. She is the author of several articles and two books, one of which is Handmaid: the Power of Names in Theology and Society (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2010).
A close Gospel reading reveals service as a root metaphor for the Christian life, a life lived in Christ. Service establishes members of the new community. In this light, service also becomes the metaphor for the Christian community.
Although no placards or public speeches were made, Nigerian sisters kept the counsel of St. Francis of Assisi to "preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words" in the first consolidated public prayer gesture for their country.
Several factors have kept African women away from the field of biblical studies. But a new day dawns for women's biblical scholarship in Africa, and with it comes the chance to improve everyday grassroots theology for both women and men throughout the continent.
I had presumed the story of the stone that covered the tomb of Jesus was familiar to most people until I encountered someone recently who claimed to be a staunch Catholic but remembered only faintly the phrase, "Who will roll away the stone for us?" The incident encouraged me to share a reflection on the Marcan version of the Passion narrative concerning the women disciples of Jesus, who went to his tomb at the first day of the week only to discover the body was no longer interred, but that Jesus had been raised from the dead.