By Rev Fr. Pat. Amobi Chukwuma
Indeed man is a bundle of possibilities. There is something new in town. The dead can now be committed to mother earth in a duplex. What is a duplex? A semi-illiterate man defines duplex as someone who duped Alex and occupied his house. A drunk says that duplex and tubeless are twin babies born by the same mother on the same day. An intelligent man I met in the internet on 1st February 2022 gives concrete definition: “A duplex is a multi-family home that has two units in the same building.
These two units always share a common wall, but the floor plan can vary. Units can be arranged either side by side or stacked on top of one another, each occupying an entire floor or two of the building.” A duplex is a house that is exceptional and attractive. It is one in town.
What is the difference between a duplex and a bungalow? An anonymous writer says, “A bungalow is a small house or cottage that is either single-storey or has a second storey built into a sloping roof (usually with dormer windows), and may be surrounded by wide verandas.” The first house in England that was classified as a bungalow was built in 1869. In America it was initially used as vacation architecture, and was most popular between 1900 and 1918, especially with Arts and Crafts movement.
A house, a duplex or a bungalow can be static or mobile. If it is built on soil foundation, then it is immovable. But if it is constructed with wood or other elements, it is mobile. Static buildings can be demolished while mobile houses can be conveyed to a desired position. A certain man and his family were sleeping on a wooden mobile house on a fateful night. Suddenly, armed robbers invaded them in great number.
They surrounded the mobile wooden house and burgled the house, the occupants and their properties to their den inside a nearby bush. There, they sorted the money and precious items and made away with them, living the helpless occupants in danger. They screamed and screamed.
Wonders shall never end. Few days ago, I saw an impossibility made possible. My eyes saw my ears for the first time since I was born many years ago on April Fool Day. What did I see? Behold the trumpeters blowing their trumpets and the drummers drumming. I saw a mobile wooden duplex with the dead body of an influential man being carried by undertakers, who were dancing to the tune of glorious music as they escorted the dead man to his final destination.
Electronic gadgets, telephone, television were fitted inside the post mortem duplex so that the dead man can be communicating with the living from the world beyond. It was also installed with DSTV dish. Someone chipped in that perhaps the man died homeless and was going to his eternal home in the duplex presented to him as send-off package by the bereaved family, friends and well-wishers. At the graveside, the motionless occupant of the duplex was interred solemnly. Perhaps, it was a caterpillar that dug the massive grave that contained the duplex.
How did we come to this idiotic ideology? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity! The termites and maggots in the massive grave were singing praises for being provided with rich food in these days of economic hardship and hunger. We came with nothing into the world on the day of one’s birthday. Likewise on the death-day, we shall depart with nothing.
Only good deeds can merit us eternal life in our heavenly home where we shall see the Beatific Vision and rejoice with the Angels and Saints. It is true that Jesus Christ said that there are many mansions in His Father’s House. These mansions in question are not material edifices; rather they are visualization of God’s Glory, which the Saviour revealed to Peter, James and John at mount Tabor when he transfigured himself. Out of exceptional joy Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it is good that we are here!” (Mtt.17:4).
Burying a dead body in a duplex or costly casket is a waste of resources. It does not contribute to the salvation of the deceased. Likewise inserting money, gold, clothes and other precious things inside the casket containing a dead body is a foolish gesture. All those material ornaments would perish with the corpse. What is necessary is to care for someone when he or she is still alive.
What is the essence of giving award to dead persons, which is referred to as post-mortem award? Is it not better to do so when the person is still alive? What is the essence of paying condolence with bags of rice, cows, goats, assorted drinks and clothing, when the deceased died hungry, thirsty and naked? Often, the bereaved family deposits the dead body of their dear ones in the mortuary and then plan for a befitting burial, when he or she lived an unbefitting life.
What is the essence of building a new house for laying the corpse in state, when the deceased died homeless or lived in a wretched house? Why not renovate or paint a house when someone is still alive? How often do we console the less privileged in need of food, drinks, clothing, shelter, etc.? I have asked my loved ones, friends and well-wishers to pay me condolence visit with their material gifts now that I am still alive, so that I can enjoy them before I die.
What does it benefit the dead when a cow is slaughtered for him or her during burial or funeral ceremony? Why not slaughter the cow when he or she is still alive so that he or she can partake of it? Have you heard what happened somewhere during the so-called ‘befitting’ funeral? The bereaved family members, relations and friends of the deceased were dancing, eating and drinking while the deceased died hungry, thirsty and angry. Suddenly, an unseen hand started slapping all of them mercilessly. They ran helter-skelter.
In conclusion, let us remember and practice the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy before the recipients die. These include giving food to the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned and finally burying the dead.
It is commendable to provide for those in need when they are alive than to provide these things during their burial or funeral ceremonies. Drugs are given to the sick and not the dead. Medicine after death is useless. After providing for the living, then we bury them when they eventually die. No one can bury himself or herself.
Since man is a composite being (made of body and soul) we should care above all for the souls of others. These non-material benefits are called Spiritual Works of Mercy. They are: To instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offences willingly; to comfort the afflicted; and to pray for the living and the dead.
The above stipulated Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy would be used as measuring rods during God’s judgment on the Last Day. Let us practice them daily as corporeal and spiritual exercises. Keeping the Commandments of God and doing the works of charity are sure ways of obtaining eternal salvation. QED.