FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaTuesday, April 22, 2014
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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NO SWEAT, NO SWEET

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hen a child is born, it cries pitifully at the birth stool. Often a hardened child refuses to cry when it comes out of the womb. What happens? The midwife beats it with the umbilical cord to induce tears. The temperature in the womb is cool and sweet. But the temperature outside the womb is hot. It is therefore heat that causes the newly born infant to cry at the birth stool. As soon as I came out of my mother's womb, I sweated profusely and I cried like a professional crier such that the midwife and nurses around me started clapping for me. In fact, I wanted to swim back into my mother's womb but the midwife blocked my mother's birth canal. I looked fiercely at the midwife and sighed. She and the nurses started wondering what type of child I was. In addition, I was born on 1st April, a Fool's day. However as I said earlier, I was born exactly at 12.05p.m. In other words, I escaped being a complete fool by five minutes. God is great! The circumstances surrounding my birth moved my parents to give me the precious name "Amaobichukwu" (No one can read God's mind).

All said and done, life inside the womb is sweet; outside the womb it is sweat. As I was growing up, the sweat increased. My sister and I lived with our paternal grandmother at home. We sweated and sweated doing one labour or the other. Even cooking caused us a lot of sweat. One day as I was pounding cassava fou-fou, I was sweating like a fowl in hot water. As soon as my sister saw me sweating, she used charcoal and wrote on the lintel of our kitchen door: NO SWEAT, NO SWEET. I looked at the inscription and smiled as the sweat was running into my mouth. The taste was salty. When the soup was done, sweetness was written over the faces of my sister and mine. We sweated doing the cooking, but the food was then sweet as we swallowed balls of fou-fou coated with bitter-leaf soup.

Life in the Garden of Eden was very sweet. There was no lack there. Adam and Eve lived in Paradise in company of animals and various trees. Life was so sweet that they did not realise that they were naked. But one day when Adam was enjoying the sweetness of life somewhere within the Garden, Eve was standing alone beside the Forbidden Tree. The devil ceased the opportunity to bring in sweat into the Garden of Eden. He deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. Immediately Eve ate the fruit, she began to sweat. The sweat drove her to seek her husband Adam to offer him the strange fruit. Adam was taken aback when he saw Eve sweating. But before he could ask Eve what was amiss, Eve has seduced him into consuming the forbidden fruit. Immediately, he ate it, he started also to sweat. The sweat pushed Adam and Eve to run, seeking for cool temperature. Sin causes sweat. In order not to contaminate the rest of the inhabitants of the Garden with sweating, the Angels of God drove the first couple on earth out of Paradise. Man rejected sweetness and chose sweating by the sin of disobedience. If we stop committing sins, the sweetness of Paradise would return.

When God saw Adam and Eve sweating, He shuddered and pronounced instant sentences: To the woman God said, "I shall give you intense pain in childbearing, you will give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning will be for your husband, and he will dominate you" (Gen. 3:16). Giving birth produces enormous sweat. God frowned at the man saying, "Accursed be the soil because of you! Painfully will you get your food from it as long as you live. By the sweat of your face will you earn your food, until you return to the ground, as you were taken from it. For dust you are and to dust you shall return" (Gen. 3:17,19).

However, at the appointed time, God being so kind sent His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ to redeem sweating sinful mankind from heat caused by sins. The Word took flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1:14). The Saviour was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He went about doing good, teaching and healing. His followers perceived sweetness as they went about with him. But the Scribes and Pharisees conspired against him. The chief priests were antagonising him. At the age of 33, Jesus was arrested on false charges. He was summarily tried and crucified at the Cross at Calvary. On the Gibbet Jesus sweated to redeem sinful mankind. The sweat caused him to ask for drinking water. But he was given vinegar to drink. He tasted it and shouted, "It is finished!" (Jn. 19:30). What is finished? Our sins are finished and crucified on the Cross. No more sweating!

The body of Jesus Christ was taken down from the Cross and laid in the sepulchre. His enemies thought that all is hopeless. Surprisingly Jesus Christ gloriously rose from the dead on the Third Day. Sweetness hovered in the atmosphere once again as the Lord is risen. Praise the Lord! Alleluia!!!

As Jesus sweated on the Cross in order to save us, let us follow his footsteps by imitating him. He urges us, "If you wish to be my disciple, take up your cross daily and follow me" (Lk. 9:23). Carrying the cross induces sweat. Since after the fall of man from grace to grass, sweetness now comes from sweat. Hence, my topic: No sweat, no sweet. St Paul underlines this fact when he admonishes the Thessalonians: "We urged you when we were with you not to let anyone eat who refused to work" (2Thess. 3:10). God himself has ordained since man's unfortunate fall that we shall eat out of the sweat of our brows. Therefore, the Cross is no more a curse after Jesus Christ was crucified on it in order to save man from damnation. The cross can come to us in any form: difficulties, sickness, poverty, childlessness, setback, faith trials, death, etc. The saintly Paul admonishes the followers of Christ in the following words: "Can anything cut us off from the love of Christ - can hardships or distress, or persecution, or lack of food and clothing, or threats or violence? No, we come through all these things triumphantly victorious, by the power of him who loved us" (Rom. 8:35 - 37). As Christians, we should never despair at any adverse situation.

Recently, an engineering graduate of Ekiti State University, Mr Sunday Omotayo jumped out of a moving vehicle in Uyo, with a view to be crushed to death by other vehicles. He was said to be tired of life as he had been jobless for the past ten years after graduation (cf. Punch Newspaper, Thurs. April 10, 2014, p.4). Suicide is not the solution. There is hope in hopelessness. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Therefore, there is hope. I urge the likes of Sunday Omotayo to be patient. Create job for yourself for now no matter how menial. God's time is the best. Some day sweetness will flow from your sweat, no matter how long. To achieve greatness involves a lot of sweat. A lot of kneeling produces sweat from which comes sweetness. If there is no Good Friday, there will be no Easter. Victory comes from suffering. Happy Easter!

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