FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaWednesday, December 6, 2017
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GOING HOME

ccording to Wikipedia, "A home or domicile is a dwelling place used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for an individual family, household or several families in a tribe. It is often a house, apartment, or other building, or alternatively a mobile home, houseboat, yurt or any other portable shelter." In a sense, a home can be stationary or mobile. If there is reincarnation, I would prefer a mobile home so that I can move to a favourable environment from time to time.

Apart from the above there are divergent definitions of a home. Robin Hobb asserts, "Home is people; not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, then all you can see is what is not there anymore." In his own perspective, James Baldwin says, "Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition." Robert Frost has this to say, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you." John le Carre ironically opines, "Home's where you go when you run out of homes." On his own view Christian Morganstern states, "Home is not where you live, but where they understand you." Someone else states that a house is made of walls and beams while a home is built on love and dreams. In other words, if there is no love and peace in your home, then you are living in a house. You smile when going to your home, but you are filled with sadness going to your house. It is love that makes a home. A lovely home is a peaceful home. Tell me the truth: Are you living in a home or in a house? Thank God if you are really living in a home. However, if you are living in a house, you better rush to the market to purchase a coffin because your death is imminent.

Everyone has a home even if it is quasi. What of those who are homeless? Do wanderers have homes? Do lunatics have homes? A home can be temporal or permanent. Wherever you live now and have never contemplated going home can be said to be your permanent home. Some have double homes. A person who has dual nationality has two homes. A person who has no home is said to be homeless and hopeless. We should assist and pray for the homeless and refugees worldwide. Who knows? You and I may be refugees tomorrow. In war or natural disaster condition, no one is sure of his or her home.

There is no place like home, no matter how wretched it is. Even if you travel to the moon, you must have the desire to go back home. There is joy in being at one's home. The first time I got scholarship to travel to Germany for further studies, I was overwhelmed with joy in leaving the shores of Nigeria. I was even contemplating of traveling from there to heaven. My family members, friends and well-wishers were crying when I was setting out. On my own part, I was intoxicated with joy for going overseas. After about two months in Germany, I began to nurse going back home. I developed a psychological sickness which the Germans call "Heimweh" (home sickness). From then on, my night dreams focused on my home. I started singing daily this song: "Oh my home, oh my home! When shall I see my home? When shall I see my native Land? I will never forget my home!" My German friend who had no knowledge of English Language one day asked me the meaning of the song I was singing from time to time. I lied to him that I was singing praises to God. Lord, have mercy on me!

Are you living abroad? When are you going home? Christmas is fast approaching. I hope you are preparing to go home to celebrate. There is joy in going home. Some do not go home due to economic hardship or insecurity. There was a time in Anambra State when Anambrarians feared going home due to kidnapping saga. In those days, people did traditional marriages and funeral of their dear ones abroad. By then we were sleeping with only one eye closed. Thank God that Anambra State today is the most secured state, courtesy of Governor Willie Obiano and his Security Team. We now sleep with two eyes tightly closed. Personally, I do not only sleep with two eyes closed, but also with nose and ears closed due to peaceful atmosphere.

Not long ago, President Buhari traveled to London when he was weighed down by acute sickness. After he was handled in a London hospital, he was transferred to the Nigerian House there, where he spent some months for recuperation. As a result of the economic hardship in Nigeria, some of the young Nigerians living in London kept vigil at the gate of the Nigerian House and were shouting, "Buhari, go home! Buhari, go home!! Buhari, go home!!!" When the shout became unbearable for the recuperating President Buhari, he hurriedly went home. So, if you have never gone home for some time now, I hereby shout on you, "Go home!!!"

The former Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, ruled for 37 years and at 93 years was causing serious economic hardship to his people. By his own might he drove away the Vice President and replaced him with his wife, Grace Mugabe, whom he wanted to succeed him at death. The Army of Zimbabwe couldn't stand to watch things falling apart in the country. They humiliated Mugabe and put him under house arrest. The residents of Zimbabwe went into the streets shouting, "Mugabe, go home and rest!" When the stage became too hot, Robert Mugabe was forced to resign. He has to go home and rest at the age of 93; having ruled with iron hand for almost four decades. Goodbye, Robert Mugabe! Go home and rest! I hereby beckon on Nigerian, African and world sit tight leaders and power mongers to go home and rest. Those candidates and their godfathers who did not succeed in the just concluded governorship election in Anambra State should go home and rest till next time.

I had a priest friend from Cameroun. We met in Germany during my further studies. He was my closest neighbor in the house where we were living. We became close friends because birds of the same feather fly together. Can you guess what I mean? Two of us were the only black men in the midst of white men. This my African friend stayed most of the time inside his room, doing one thing or the other. He was rarely found outside. As time went on I named him 'Zimmermann.' 'Zimmer' is a German word for room while 'Mann' is an equivalent of the English 'man.' As such, the literal meaning of 'Zimmermann' is a person who always stays in his room. But the actually meaning of the German term 'Zimmermann' is a carpenter. German uses also the word 'man' to mean someone. Can you see that language is 'imirimious' (o di omimi)? Imirimious is an Igbo and English combination to show the depth of something. So, going home is deep in meaning. In other words, going home is imirimious. Are you following?

Before I left home after my two years' further studies in Germany, my friend was down with contagious terminal disease. At a time he was quarantined. Whenever I visited him in the hospital, I wore a mask. I was moved to tears when I saw my friend looking like a skeleton. However, before my departure, he was looking like a ghost with little flesh. I advised him to abandon his studies and go home, because good health is better than studies. Courageously he told me that he must finish his studies before going home. We were both shading tears as I was waving goodbye to him on my way home.

I returned home (Nigeria) and went back into the Lord's Vineyard to till the spiritual soil of salvation. After some months, the Nigerian priest who occupied my room when I left Germany wrote to me through e-mail in these German words: "Dein Freund ist heimgegangen." This means literally that my friend has gone home. It was not ordinary going home but death. He died about two weeks after he went back home. I wept profusely over my friend's demise. He has gone to our eternal home. Going home can also mean death. We must all go home some day, some time and somewhere. Are you prepared?

As human beings created in the image and likeness of God, we have dual homes. This means that we are citizens of earth and heaven. The earth is our temporal home while heaven is our permanent home. Some of us are living as if this physical universe is our permanent home by amassing wealth by hook and crook. We take pleasure in riding expensive cars, building mansions here and there. Often we glory in the life of debauchery like the biblical prodigal son. We remember the biblical passage where a certain rich fool produced a good harvest and thought of pulling down his barns in order to set up bigger ones where he would store all his grains (wealth). Then he happily told himself, "My friend, you have a lot of good things put by for you for many years. Rest, eat, drink and enjoy yourself" (Luke 12:19). Immediately God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be taken from you; tell me who will get all you have put aside?" (Luke 12:20). You or I may be that rich fool. If we store up riches on earth instead of heaven, we are missing the way. A dog bound to get lost ignores the hunter's whistle. Some of us are getting lost already due to inordinate wealth, sex and power. Jesus Christ sternly warns each and every one of us in these words: "Do not store up treasure for yourself here on earth where moth and rust destroy it, and where thieves can steal it. Store up treasure for yourself in heaven, where no moth or rust can destroy nor thief comes and steals it" (Mtt.6:19 - 20).

We have entered the season of Advent, which is a period of preparation for the Lord's coming. This preparation is of dual capacity. First of all, it is a 4-week preparation for Christmas, which is the commemoration of the Birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We celebrate Christmas every 25th December. Jesus Christ this time is not to be born in the manger but in our hearts. Therefore we must purify ourselves of all obstacles (sins). The Kingdom of God cannot co-exist with the kingdom of sin. God does not desire the death of a sinner but wants him to repent. We pray God to grant all those going home for Christmas a peaceful and prosperous journey, so that they may celebrate with joy and not with tears. Amen!

As we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, we also utilize the Advent season to prepare for the second coming of the Lord. In other words, we also prepare for going to our eternal home. No one knows the time, day, month or year of one's going home (death). Therefore we must be prepared at all times. Hence Jesus tells us, "Be ready, dressed for service, and keep your lamps lit, like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding. As soon as he comes and knocks, they will open to him. Happy are those servants whom the master finds wide awake when he comes" (Luke 12:36 - 37). In order not to be taken unaware, we must sleep like a dog. The Igbo refer to this recommended type of dog-sleep as "sleeping-muru-anya." This type of sleep is done by keeping one eye closed and the other open. It is not as a result of insecurity but alertness. He who is going home must keep one's baggage intact because the departure can be sudden. Let us then get set for going to our eternal home when the Lord calls. I wish you and me safe journey when the time comes. Goodbye!

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