Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaMonday, December 21, 2015




ne day I was driving through Enugu - Onitsha expressway in Anambra State. At the Enugu-Agidi junction, I burst into Abagana side of the bye-pass. As I was accelerating at a moderate speed, three women pitifully waved me down. They were citizens of Abagana returning from the farm. I knew them facially. I marched on the vehicle break and my car halted automatically. I wound down the glass and asked them, "Good day, what can I do for you?" With one voice they answered, "Please Father, we are exhausted, kindly give us a lift." They were carrying different sizes of firewood and straw for their domestic animals. I opened the car's door and stepped down. There were three vacant seats in my car. Then I told the three women to make haste and enter. Two of them entered with their goods packed in my car's booth, but the third couldn't. Why? Her firewood was so big and heavy. I tried my best to accommodate her firewood and straw but all to no avail. At last I left only her behind and set out with the other two. She was carrying excess luggage. As I sped off, I looked back through the mirror and saw anger swimming all over her face. She was pointing towards my direction and causing me for abandoning her behind. Was my action right or wrong?

Excess luggage carries extra cost on transportation by air. The Airport Authority usually admonishes passengers to travel light. A certain woman was invited by her son to come overseas and rest for six months. She thought that aero-plane has the capacity to carry everything no matter the quantity. Hence she bought twenty heads of big water melon, fifteen coconuts, fifteen tubers of yam, and eighteen heads of pineapple among other things. She packed them in three heavy bags. In addition, she had two heavy bags of clothing. An open taxi transported these items and herself to the Airport for airlift to London. The check-in began. She queued up with other travelers. As she stood before the counter for the check-in, the airport personnel in-charge saw all her luggage and sighed. The man without mincing words told the woman that she was carrying excess luggage. She was directed to reduce her bags to two, with each weighing 10 kilogram. To achieve this, she must throw away the water-melons and some of the coconuts. She became furious. How can she discard those valuable edible products that she labored to buy at exorbitant prices? Instead of throwing them away, she stayed at the airport for one week in order to consume those things herself. The next week she succeeded in having only two bags weighing 13 kg each. The bags were measured and it was found out that she was still carrying excess luggage. Hence she has to pay a fine for the airlift. But before her plane could land at Heathrow Airport in London, the water melons and pineapples have started decomposing with unpleasant odour. Pennywise, pound foolish! She lost both the edible commodities and money. Carrying excess luggage does no one good. Always travel light!

If you are overweight, you are carrying excess luggage. Watch your weight by obeying the laws of healthy living. I knew a man who ate and drank to excess every day. His doctor warned him seriously that he can suffer from obesity. Instead he took it light by saying that when he dies, his brethren would have something heavy to carry into the grave. He became fat that he could no more enter his room. Eventually he died from the obesity. In the church someone signs him with the Sign of the Cross because he could no longer move his hand freely. Eventually he died. His brethren, to avoid being weighed down as they carry his corpse, resorted to hiring a crane to put him in the grave.

I recall the story of the tortoise and the goat. Both went on food theft in a woman's house through a small hole behind her house wall. The goat was eating without consideration. But as the wise tortoise ate he went from time to time to check if its belly could still go through the small hole. Suddenly the woman and her sons came back and found the goat and the tortoise enjoying from the delicious food they cooked for the visitors they were expecting. Angrily, they pursued them with a big stick. When the two reached the small hole from where they came in, the wise tortoise slipped away. The head of the goat and its neck went through but its big belly couldn't. It was caught instantly and beaten to stupor. This story reminds me of the day my car broke on the way. A certain driver I knew was passing by. He saw my handicap and volunteered to come to my assistance. He was carrying excess luggage as his belly was so big like a pregnant woman. He bent down and entered the underneath of my broken car to remedy the problem. Having finished, he did everything possible to come out. His head, neck and legs came out comfortably but his big belly was trapped. I laughed at him thinking he was joking. He cried for help. I couldn't lift up the car alone to set him free. Thank God some good Samaritans were passing by. They lifted the car up and the trapped man came out freely. They amused him by advising him sarcastically to eat more and drink more in excess.

Excess luggage can come in many other forms. If you have any surplus articles of clothing you are carrying excess luggage. Those dresses and wears in your wardrobe begging for use, what are they doing there? A certain wealthy woman has five big boxes full of clothes. There are some of them she has not worn for the past three years. Sometimes she finds pleasure in sleeping on top of those boxes smiling foolishly. The other man has twenty pairs of trousers and fifty shirts. What an excess luggage? It is a corporal work of mercy to clothe the naked. Some persons pay condolence visit to family of the deceased with new cloths, when the departed one lacked clothes during his or her lifetime. It is foolishness putting in series of clothing and jewelries in the coffin of the dead. Those things should be given to the less privileged in our society. If you have more than four pairs of shoes, you are carrying excess luggage also. There are many poor people going barefooted due to poverty. Anyone who possesses more than two mobile phones is carrying excess luggage.

Concerning food items, if you are storing more than two bags of rice in your kitchen store, you are carrying excess luggage. Why are those yams rotting in your barn when millions of people out there are dying of hunger? A certain well to do man eats one plate of rice, a plate of pounded yam and soup, a plate of salad, a plate of pepper-soup every afternoon. At the end of the sumptuous meal he drinks seven bottles of beer. Is he not carrying excess luggage while so many poor people have nothing to eat and drink? Let us remember the sad story of Lazarus and Davis the rich man in the Bible. He was dinning in surplus everyday while Lazarus had nothing to eat and often ate from the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. The poor Lazarus later died of hunger and went to Heaven. The rich man at last also died and went to hell. Why did he go to hell? It was because he was carrying excess luggage of food and failed to feed the hungry. What of you and I? One of the Corporal Works of Mercy is to feed the hungry, and the other is to give drink to the thirsty. There is a story of a miserable man who died of hunger. He had well to do relatives and neighbors while he was alive but they neglected him. On his funeral day, they were eating and drinking in quantum. Suddenly, the grave of the dead poor man opened and he came out furiously with a very big sharp knife. He drove everybody away and upturned their food and drinks. Afterwards he sighed and went back into his grave to rest in peace. Some bereaved families provide cooling vans on the burial and funeral of their deceased one, when he or she died of thirst and had never drunk any cool drinks while alive.

Some build mansions here and there when many people are homeless. Often some of us practice medicine after death. There was a pauper who died homeless. He had many pieces of land. One of his neighbors volunteered to deposit his body in the mortuary and to build a post-mortem house where the deceased would lie in state before burial. He vowed to give the late poor and homeless man a befitting burial. The deceased lived an unbefitting life and would be accorded a befitting burial. Is this not carrying excess luggage? His intention was to acquire the deceased poor man's land. Tell me, which do you prefer: befitting life or befitting burial?

Living in sin is also carrying excess luggage. Jesus asks, "What shall it profit a man (woman) if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?" (Lk. 9:25). Nothing impure will enter the Kingdom of God. God himself does not desire the death of a sinner but wants him to repent and be saved. Therefore, let us jettison our excess luggage of sin by repentance. Have you and I repented? At the end of our earthly lives we shall be rewarded or punished according to our deeds. Let us make haste while the sun shines. There is no repentance in the grave.

As Christmas is fast approaching, we need to jettison our excess luggage. The people asked Jesus Christ what they would do. He answered, "Anyone who has two tunics must share with the one who has none, and anyone with something to eat must do the same" (Lk.3:10 - 11). 26th December is the traditional Boxing Day. When we were small, we normally box ourselves with punches on this day, acting in ignorance. As we grew up we learnt that Boxing Day (December 26) is a special Christmas act of almsgiving to the poor and less privileged among us. Christ was born to save us. Let us act likewise. Charity covers a multitude of sins.