Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaSaturday, November 28, 2015
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efore you proceed in reading this article, could you quickly say: "Work, pray and pray" (3 times)? Did you chew your tongue? If so, please go and see the doctor for immediate medical attention. Then come to me later for deliverance from the evil spirit of tongue chewing. As a priest I shall anoint your tongue with Holy Oil. No cause for alarm. Where is Amobi heading to? Open your eyes wide as you read.

"There is time for everything," says the clock. Work is good. God himself is a worker. If the Creator works, then his creatures must equally work. According to biblical narration of Creation in the Book of Genesis Chapter One, God created everything in heaven and earth in seven days. God smiled when he saw that everything he created was good. By that time I was already in the mind of God.

When I contemplate on the nature of God, I wonder. God has no beginning and no end. He was. He is. He will be forever. He is the Alpha and the Omega. There is Three Persons in one God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. These Three Persons are one and the same. Pondering on this Trinity as a human, I see myself heading to mental disorder. God is incomprehensible. Therefore I surrendered to Faith. Faith begins where human reason stops.

This God on the sixth day of his creative works said, "Let us make man in our own image and likeness. Let him rule over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over the wild animals, and over all creeping things that crawl along the ground. So God created man in his image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it'" (Gen. 1:26 - 28). By this statement, God instituted the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The present Nigerian Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, is lucky to get this divine Ministry. He should then prove himself by doing everything possible to glorify God and enhance the dignity of human labour. During the 11th November 2015 swearing-in and inauguration of President Buhari's Federal Executive Council in Aso Rock Abuja, Ngige appeared in complete regalia of an Igbo titled man. I admire him for that. I urge him not to disappoint the Igbos in particular and Nigerians in general. All Nigerian youths who are jobless should now rush to the office of Dr. Chris Ngige in Abuja for immediate employment. But before you go, make sure you are employable. Take also your cutlass in case you are employed to cut grasses along Abuja - Lokoja highway. In addition, the former Lagos State Governor Dr. Fashola is in-charge of the Ministry of Works per se. He should begin with the reconstruction of Onitsha - Enugu Expressway, which now looks like the road from Death to Hell. If you obey Satan you will go through this road one day.

From the biblical account we have seen that man is created to work. He was housed in Paradise to till and sow crops. It is by working that man fulfils himself. Hence, he or she who does not work is an unfulfilled person or a ghost. Saint Paul writing to the Thessalonians stood his ground when he advocated, "He who refuses to work, must not eat" (2 Thess. 3:10). Indeed there is no food for a lazy person. Do you not know that a lazy person will not inherit the Kingdom of God? If a lazy person lies down to sleep, hunger will wake him or her up. A trial will convince you.

As a little boy there was a time I pretended to be sick. To say the whole truth, nothing but the truth, I was lazy. I began to shiver. My mother sat beside me and covered me with a thick blanket. Because my sickness was pretence, I paid for it. I began to sweat profusely inside the blanket. Indeed I suffered under Pontus Laziness. My breath was choking me and I was sweating like a pig. But I had to bear it because of the presence of my mum. As soon as my mum went into the kitchen to prepare tea and egg for me, I pulled of the blanket and opened the windows wide before I commit suicide. Suddenly I heard the footsteps of my mum and I quickly covered myself with the blanket again. As I smelled the aroma of the food my mum was preparing for me, I began to smile even though I was sweating under the blanket. All my pretence was to eat without working. May God forgive me! I did it out of ignorance. As soon as my mum dished my own share of the food in a big plate, she called on me to try to come and eat. I did not waste time to answer the food call. I was groaning falsely. Also, I frowned my face to justify my sickness. As soon as I reached the refectory, I descended on the appetizing food with all alacrity. Before my mum could fetch me a cup of drinking water, I have already finished the plate of food and washed the plate with my tongue. When my mum observed this, she cast a fierce look at me and said, "Amobi, are you sick or hungry?" I answered her, "All of the above."

On another occasion, I pretended to be sick again to avoid washing of plates and sweeping the rooms when it was my turn. I went and laid myself on the bed and was shivering. My mum came to my bed-side and said, "Before Abraham I am." She brandished a huge cane. Before I knew what was happening, she gave me twelve lashes of the cane. After receiving the strokes, I ran like a mad man into the pantry to wash the plates. I learnt my lesson that day. Work is good for me and for you. Laziness is as dangerous as a contagious disease.

On a happy note, the incumbent Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, is a hard worker. Everywhere we see his footprint with the inscription: WILLIE IS WORKING (WIW). Well done my amiable Governor. Please come and take more grease and add to your elbows. I shall also give you Holy Water to sprinkle around you always to cast away principalities and powers hovering around you just to devour you and steal the wealth of Anambra State. Indeed there are no more room for laziness and hooliganism in this state. The Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature in both state and federal levels should work together as a team to fulfill the divine injunction to work and to be productive in their respective fields. The fight against corruption is everybody's business. Financial Corruption is amassing public money without laboring. It is the highest degree of theft.

After his creative works, God rested on the seventh day and made it holy. My people, after working from Monday to Saturday, we must rest. If God rested, who are we not to rest? As we rest on the Seventh Day (Sunday) let us remember to worship the Lord who gives us life. We ought to pray not only on this day, but everyday of our lives. Some people swallow this Latin adage: "Laborare est orare" (TO WORK IS TO PRAY) without digestion. Yes, we should work but we ought also to pray. Some people deceive themselves by working when they are supposed to be praying or praying when they should be working. Despite his tight schedule, Jesus Christ found time to go to a lone place to pray. We should therefore not to be busier than God.

After working and praying, the next thing in human agenda is to play (rest). Lack of rest can cause cancer of the brain. Hence our theme: Work, Pray and Play (WPP). The English adage says, "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. On the other hand, all play and no work make Jack a puppet. The Lord Jesus himself after sending his apostles on mission found out time to sit at Jacob's well to rest. Who are we not to rest and play? Leisure time is very healthy, but it ought to be well utilized. Our body needs to be exercised adequately so that the body metabolism can function well. Relaxation, taking a walk, playing games and having enough sleep are the ingredients of a healthy living. Try and see!

I told you last year that a priest says that Leave means 'you leave.' Holidays are necessary for everybody. Recently I took my annual one month leave. I travelled to Abuja, Minna and Jos. I prayed and played after working. If it was possible, I would have visited God in Heaven for a while to see my people there. But I was handicapped because I couldn't get the heavenly visa. The Embassy of Heaven in Abuja was over crowded by then. Tomorrow is another day.

As the Church's Liturgical Year and Government Calendar Year come to an end, let us resolve to work, pray and play with zealousness. Life has no duplicate. Opportunity comes but once. Advent time is at the corner. See you then!