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Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaSunday, May 11, 2014
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


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LOVE IN THE GRAVE

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ove is a tenderly affection shown to another. It is seeking for the wellbeing of others. It is also sharing one's material and spiritual possessions with others, rich or poor. Love in action is known as charity. But there is one woman called Charity in my neighbourhood. She is wickedness personified. Hatred is her trademark. Do you know that even dogs do not eat her excrete? She is an acute miser. Her name is contrary to her actions. There is an urgent need for her to change name. Please suggest a suitable name for her.

Out of his love, God created human beings to share in his heavenly and earthly banquet. Hence, God says, "Let us make man in our own image and likeness." (Gen.1:26). He created them male and female. Further, God out of his love gave man this mandate: "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen.1:28). Thus, the Psalmist looking at the abundant resources God bequeathed to man wonders: "When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god; with glory and honour you crowned him, gave him power over the works of your hand, put all things under his feet. All of them, sheep and cattle, yes, even the savage beasts, birds of the air, and fish that make their way through the waters" (Psalm 8:3 - 8). What a lovely God!

Love is indeed sharing. What should we share? We should share everything except evil. St Paul lists the qualities of love as: "Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes" (I Cor. 13: 4 - 7). Love is sacrificial.

Love is truly manifested to the living. Therefore, there is no love in the grave as such, though we should never forget the dead. At least we pray for their eternal repose. The great Ben Sira gives this admonition: "And also give generously to the poor, so that your blessing may lack nothing. Let your generosity extend to all the living, do not withhold it even from the dead" (Sirach 7:32 - 33).

Last week I went to commiserate with a family somewhere over the death of their mother. As her corpse lay in state, the family members were wailing and wailing. One of the late woman's sons was soaked in tears that can fill an ocean. He went to the extent of kissing his mother's corpse, saying, "My dearest mother, I love you. Why did you leave us so early?" He stuck to the corpse trying to wake her up. But it was too late. His siblings came to drag him out before he inflicts wound on their mother's corpse. I was moved to tears. Out of curiosity I enquired from a sympathizer the cause of the woman's death. She whispered into my ear: "Father, the woman died of hunger and abandonment." Hearing this ugly information, the Holy Bible I was holding in my hand dropped on the floor without my approval, as I was shivering over what I heard. The irony of it all was that the weeping son is living in affluence in Abuja with his family while his mother was languishing in penury in a leaking thatch house built by her late husband. She ate from hand to mouth. Thanks to caring neighbours who discovered her dead.

On getting the news of the death of his mother, this wealthy son rushed home immediately. He saw his mother's corpse and wept regrettably. His mother's spirit might have been tormenting him for starving and abandoning her at home. What did he do? He deposited her in a morgue and started to build a two-storey house where his mother will lie in state. Does a corpse live in a house? Some renovate their houses when a beloved one is dead. But when he or she was alive, the walls of the collapsing house almost buried him or her alive. This is medicine after death or love in the grave. The Abuja based son concluded to accord his mother a befitting burial. What is the essence of giving a befitting burial to someone who died of unbefitting death? If I were the dead, I would fight back from the world beyond. What do you think?

There was a story of a wealthy man who lived abroad with his family. He abandoned his elderly sick father at home without caring for him even by proxy. Regrettably, the old man died sighing. His mouth was in that sighing position and was committed to mother earth. His son living overseas heard of his father's death. He returned home with dollars to give his father a befitting burial. As the son danced to the funeral tune, friends and well-wishers were appreciating him with wraps of new Naira notes. Suddenly, the deceased old man fiercely appeared with a long and sharp Indian knife. Still sighing, he pursued his abroad based son who abandoned him to fate at home. The son ran for his dear life. The sympathizers that filled the compound shouted and ran helter-skelter. This event took place seven years ago. Till today the son in question has not been seen. Who knows if his aggrieved sighing father pursued him into hell-fire?

The love we show to the living counts a lot. A certain man goes by the nickname "Utokanandu." (Friendship is better while living). Jesus Christ has the living in mind when he talked of love in action. The last Judgement will centre on what we did for the living. Thus, Jesus Christ has this to say: "Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me" (Mtt. 25:34 - 36).

I hereby appeal to all those who will come for my condolence visit when I die, to do so now that I am still alive. Come to my office any Tuesday between 8.00a.m and 12.00 noon. You can contact me also on phone and book appointment. If you do not come to condole me now that I am still alive, if I see you around when I die, I shall automatically bulldoze you into the land of the dead. I mean what I say. I am not joking, because there is time for everything. Bring your wine now so that we can lovely share together with other sympathizers. A corpse does not drink. Why come on condolence when a person is dead with cartons of beer, malt and local jars of palm-wine? Bring them now so that we share with friends, well-wishers and the less privileged in our society. Come with your money-envelop so that I can use it to purchase basic necessities of life.

If you visit any bereaved family during funeral rite, you will see series of wrappers hung on a rope which were brought by sympathizers and relatives while the dead in question died naked. If you look at the other side of the compound you would see live cows tethered on trees while the dead died due to lack of protein. What else do you see over there? It is a giant steaming vehicle loaded with assorted cold drinks while the dead died of thirst. Various dancing troupes grace the funeral while the dead in question died because of loneliness. The children, grand-children, great grand children, relatives, friends and well-wishers all appear in different uniforms to colour the funeral ceremony while the dead died of abandonment. Assorted foods are lavishly served while the dead died of starchy foods. If the dead have eyes, they would revenge from beyond.

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