Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaThursday, August 13, 2015




certain poor man was suffering from tuberculosis and was critically lying in his leaking thatch house for about two years. His wretched wife and two children were feeding him and all were eating from hand to mouth. She was using local herbs to treat her ailing husband because of lack of means to seek orthodox medication. The poor man's neighbours who were well to do neglected him. No one cared to take him to hospital. Instead they were praying for him to die so that they amass his landed property. Eventually, the sick poor man died. His wife thought that he was sleeping, until a convoy of flies came in to pay homage to the dead body. It dawned on the wife that her husband was dead. She started weeping hopelessly.

Accidentally, one of their neighbours stumbled into their hut to observe what was amiss. He saw the poor man lying motionless on his mat, surrounded by a community of toilet flies. He called the poor man thrice by his nickname "Uwankeaself" but there was no answer. The curious neighbour rushed out like a ghost. Within some minutes he came back with a staff nurse. He asked her to give the motionless poor man a resuscitating injection and drip that would bring him back to life. The staff nurse filled a syringe with intravenous liquid injection. She then started to search the poor man's body for veins. She found none. On closer examination, she discovered that the poor man was already clinically dead. She stood up and sighed. Then she exclaimed with sour face, "This is medicine after death!"

The poor dead man's neighbours contributed money and deposited his corpse in the mortuary for six months, within which they began to build a three bed-room flat where the corpse would lie in state before burial. The poor man never drank any cold drink while he was alive, due to abject poverty. Now his corpse will lie in the cold room for six months. He lived in a leaking thatch house with his family. Now he will own a post mortem house. All these are medicine after death. Also those pseudo-sympathizers have ulterior motive of snatching the dead poor man's landed property, despite the fact that he left a family behind. They can go to blazes. This is man's inhumanity to man. Is God not watching?

Once upon a time, a man was elected the Chairman of his village Union in a certain town within the Capital Territory of Anambra State. Do you know the first project he embarked upon? He summoned a general meeting of the villagers and the agendum was how to dig graves for the dead. The wise men among them sighed and concluded that the newly elected chairman has nothing for the good of the village. A few other young men who have nothing doing in the village hailed him on the grave digging project. But one of the villagers courageously stood up and shouted, "Mr. Chairman, you should die first and let us bury you to begin this new project of yours. What a nonsensical nonsense!" He spat on the floor thrice and went home angrily. Is the digging of the grave a profession? Some of the young and elderly men in some towns and village are jobless. Therefore they specialize in digging graves for the dead. They pray that people may die, so that they eat, drink and make merry as they dig the grave. They also go home with some raw cash. Then they wait anxiously for another person to die. When they become sick themselves they go to hospital and ask God not to allow them to die. If you are fond of enjoying funeral food and drinks, why not die so that others can enjoy? Who cheats who?

My people open your ears well. A Police Officer in the nearby village in the same town described above bought masquerades for his village young men. His own children are all studying and working overseas. Whenever he comes home, he buys Indian Hemps and hot drinks for the boys, encouraging them to foment trouble in that town and to fight the Church there. He never helped any of them to secure any employment in the Police Force where he is a big boss. Is this Officer caring for the living or for the dead, since masquerades are believed to be spirits of the dead?

There are seven Corporal Works of Mercy. Six of them are for the living and one only for the dead. Should we not look after the living before they die, then we think of burying them? Let us now x-ray the seven Corporal Works of mercy.

The first corporal work of mercy is to feed the hungry. A hungry man is an angry man. An orphan slumped on the way while coming back from school. He entered into coma. Sympathizers hurriedly rushed him to a nearby hospital. The doctor was eating at that time, but he carried his food into the emergency room to see the patient. As soon as the patient in coma perceived the aroma of the food, he opened one of his eyes and started touching his stomach with one hand. The doctor immediately diagnosed his illness without any laboratory test. The orphan was suffering from hunger. Three plates of pounded yam and egusi soup were brought for him. He smiled, sat up and started eating the food without washing his hands. Before a nurse could bring drinking water for him, he has already consumed everything and was looking for more. In addition, he drank six bottles of malt instantly. The doctor discharged him there and then, without paying any hospital bill. Hunger is a great illness and can be sometimes terminal.

How many hungry people have you fed? Those who go to condolence with food items to a dead person who died of starvation should examine their consciences. Cows are slaughtered while the dead never ate any bone while alive. On the judgment day, Jesus will say to me and you, "For I was hungry and you gave me food" (Mtt. 25:35). Or he may say, "For I was hungry and you never gave me food" (Mtt. 25:42). Whenever we feed the hungry we are feeding the Lord Jesus. If we fail to do so, then we have failed to see the image of Jesus in a hungry man or woman. We should feed the sick before we dig their graves.

The second Corporal Work of Mercy is to give drink to the thirsty. I remember in my secondary school days when I was coming back from a hilly stream. A mad man was coming from the opposite side. He ran to me and asked me for water to drink. I had no cup with me. I was carrying the water in a bucket. He put a hard equation before me. If you were in my shoes, what would you do? After plus and minus, I bent down and let him drink from the bucket. He drank it half. I poured away the remaining water and went back to the stream for fresh water.

During burial and funeral ceremonies, assorted drinks are served while the dead might have died of thirst. The dead man or woman might not have drunk any cold drink during his or her life time, but at the funeral cold vehicle standby with the engine on. Jesus Christ says, "I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink" (Mtt. 25:42).

The third Corporal Work of Mercy is to cloth the naked. My dear those articles of clothing wasting in your wardrobe, what are they there for? They do not belong to you; they are for the poor. When you visit any bereaved family during the funeral ceremony, you see different colours of wrapper hanging on a long rope. The irony is that the departed might have died naked. Why not we clothe people while they are still alive? If you ask people to bring articles of clothing for the less privilege, majority will bring worn-out clothes. Are the naked worn out?

The fourth is to shelter the homeless. Some less privileged persons within the towns and villages have nowhere to lay their heads. Their relations, friends and well-wishers never think of building house for them. But when they die, money is contributed to do so. Often someone volunteers to build the post mortem house alone. Do the dead live in houses? What do we call this but medicine after death?

The fifth is to care for the sick. I went round a village in Awka for Communion of the Sick. I saw many of the sick ones languishing with no one to console them. Often the family members go about their businesses and lock up the sick in a room. If you peep through the window, the nasty odour oozing out from the room can throw you off balance. Who cares? As soon as the sick person dies, the family members will then have time to come home from near and far. They begin to prepare for the burial. A story was told of an abandoned sick man who eventually died a miserable death. As relations carried him to the grave for burial, suddenly the casket opened wide. The dead man stood up and started pursuing everybody.

Sixth is to visit the imprisoned. Tell me the truth, how many times have you visited prisoners? Once upon a time, I was in the prison for a visit. Immediately I entered, some prisoners surrounded me like ants. They told me all sorts of stories. Some gave me rough written letters to deliver to their relations. Some asked me for alms. Out of sympathy, I doled out some amount of money and gave one of the prisoners to share with his fellow prisoners. Surprisingly, he took to his heels. The other prisoners pursued him like kites pursuing a chick. Luckily, they caught him and brought him before me. He denied the where about of the money I gave him to share with others. He was by this time speaking like a person having an impediment in speech. The prisoners forcefully opened his mouth. What did I see? The money was packed on the floor of his mouth. He received the beating of his life for his selfishness. We should not desist from visiting the prisoners, no matter why they are there. You and I can be thrown in there tomorrow by an act of commission or omission.

The seventh is to bury the Dead. After all efforts to assist the living corporally and they die eventually, we should pat ourselves on the back for job well done. The next thing is to accord them befitting burial according to one's religious inclination. It is then we can think of digging the grave. Some Christians wish their departed ones farewell by performance of the dust to dust rite. It is the last act of love we can show the dead. If the husband dies first, the wife, children and beloved ones bid him farewell via the dust to dust rite. If it is the wife who dies first, the husband, children and lovely ones do the same. To bury the dead is an act of love if took care of them while they were alive.

I have an urgent demand to make here. Listen carefully. I call all who would pay me condolence visit when I die to bring me their condolence gifts now that I am still alive. I want to enjoy them now so that my days on earth can be prolonged. There is no enjoyment in the grave. Medicine after death is ineffective.