old shivers ran down my spine as I glanced through the first term result of one of the boys under my custody. My eyes turned red as I saw red ink all over the result sheet. Out of eighteen subjects taken in the terminal examination that ushers-in the Christmas holidays, this particular student failed woefully seventeen subjects. Probably by accident he credited one subject only. This was written in blue ink while the rest were marked with attractive red ink. To add salt to pepper, the form master commented: "A woeful failure!" Reading this negative comment, six and half drops of tears ran down the gutter leading from my eyes to my lips. I summoned the student in question and stood him before my judgement seat. I put it to him, "My boy, why did you waste your parents' money at school, only to get a result soaked in red ink?" He joyfully replied, "Father, but I am not the last. Three students are behind me. At least father you can reward me with a boiled egg." I laughed angrily and went into my room to bring the egg reward. As I was boiling at 100 degrees, I hid an advent cane at my back. As the student noticed three stars in eyes, he ran for safety. I called after him to come and receive his woeful reward, but he disappeared like a ghost.
Now let us hit the hammer at the nail. The year 2013 is about to end. Many of us made various resolutions at the dawn of this year. The making of New Year resolution is one thing; the observance of it is another. Often we fail woefully in keeping the resolutions such that the past year was better. Many people failed woefully in their businesses this year. Some who were healthy at the beginning of the year are now either hospitalised or lying critically at home. One accident or the other has maimed some of us. Some who were alive at the onset of this year have their names now found in the Obituary Dictionary. For some, the year 2013 is a blessing; but for some it is a doom's year. Some are laughing while some are crying. It is now time to take stock.
The form master of the failed student in question on his second comment wrote: "You must wake up from your slumber!" A popular adage has it that the down-fall of a man is not the end of his life. Whatever is the adverse condition we experienced in this out-going year should not weigh us down. The mother hen searched the earth backwards and forward with her feet for feed. She asked her chicken which one is greater. They told her that it is forward. No wonder it is popularly said: "Forward ever, backward never." The Igbo give the name "Nkiruka" (the future is brighter) to avoid the negative tendency of wailing over the past. A broken egg is already damaged. What one can do is not to wail over spilt milk but to be more careful in the future. As the form master admonished the unintelligent student, we must wake up from slumber as the year ends.
The Solemnity of the Birth of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is celebrated six days to the end of the year. This divine birth is known as Christmas. As children in those good days, we marked Christmas with the sewing of new clothes, new shoes, rubber eye-glasses and artificial hand-watches. After going to the church to display our new attire, we returned home and settled down over plates of white rice and stew. Eating of yams or any other food on Christmas day was for us a taboo. It was even a bad omen for the end of that year.
When I attained the adult age, my concept of Christmas changed. As a child you think like a child. But if an adult possesses child's mentality, it means that there was retardation along the line of growth. The Bible says that unless you are born again, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. We must be born again at Christmas. Christ should be born in us, that is, to be Christ-like. Unfortunately, most people are Satan-like. That is why there is trouble in our society and the world at large. Some people acquire wealth by all means to show up at Christmas. Armed robbers kill and destroy for money. Kidnappers hold innocent men and women at ransom for millions of naira. Even these days we hear of Baby factories where babies are manufactured and put on sale for prospective buyers. In such factories the proprietors employ jobless girls. Men also are paid to impregnate them year after year. Such girls lose physical contact with their families. They claim to be working or doing their Industrial Attachment (I.T) in remote areas that are not accessible as such. They switch off their phones and lie that there is no service there. At Christmas they come home to squander their ill-gotten money in style at the envy of the local girls. After Christmas and New Year celebrations, the wise girls go back to baby business to provide raw-materials.
Christians are the followers (imitators) of Jesus Christ. Whom am I imitating? That is a question for you and me as we celebrate Christmas. Some of us Christians commit various forms of atrocities during Christmas and New Year celebrations. Instead of trusting in God, we trust in city (atrocity). Our life in the church is most often different from our life in the city. We enter the church holy and go back to the city full of iniquities.
In these days, there is little or no fear for the holy. Imagine the atrocities being committed during Christmas and New Year vigil Masses or services all over the place. The youths grow wild at night. They fire all sorts of firework right inside the church where worship is in progress. Some drink themselves to madness. Some others enjoy free sex on Christmas and New Year eve. One lady in a certain town claimed to be going for Christmas vigil Mass. In the morning her corpse was found lying naked in a hotel. Her remains were brought home and buried unceremoniously at the New Year eve. Is she not gone forever? Unless you and I repent, we shall walk the same path of perdition.
As the year 2013 comes to an end, we must wake up from slumber. St Paul admonishes each and every one of us, Christians and non Christians, laity, clergy and religious: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. So be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, like intelligent and not like senseless people. Make the best of the present time, for it is a wicked age" (Eph. 5:14 - 16 ). The computer has not only enhanced human knowledge, but has indeed computerised evil, adding salt to an open wound. The websites in the Internet has caught good and bad webs. Let us separate them at this Christmas and New Year celebrations.
At this junction, I wish all those travelling for Christmas and New Year celebrations journey mercies. If we have failed woefully this year, let us not contemplate of committing suicide. Despair is the worst sin one can commit. Since a black hen can lay white eggs, there is hope in hopelessness. The year 2014 has a lot of blissful packages in the cupboard. Search diligently and prayerfully for the keys to the cupboard and success shall be yours. Woeful failure shall not be our portions in 2014. I wish you and myself a fulfilled Christmas and a prosperous fruitful New Year. God bless!!!