By Fr Pat Amobi Chukwuma
Last Tuesday morning, I sat in my office to attend to the pastoral needs of my parishioners and for others coming from far and near. Around 11.20a.m, I heard a special knock on my door. I shouted, “Please come in!” The door was opened. Two young men beaming with heavenly and earthly smiles came in.
The faces were unfamiliar but they were looking alike. God might have duplicated them with his divine machine on the day they were created and inserted them into their mother’s womb. This divine duplication in human language is referred to as identical twins. Each of these identical twins was carrying an attractive bag whose contents I was guessing. They saluted me, “Good morning Father.” I smiled and replied, “Good morning my dear duplicated young men.
You are highly welcome. Please sit down.” They sat happily. Then I enquired, “What can I do for you?” The one sitting by my right stood up and introduced himself as Ogochukwu. The other sitting by my left also stood up and introduced himself as Ogommadu. As if a whistle was blown, they sat down at the same time. To balance the introduction I remained seated and introduced my own self as Father Chukwuma. Ogochukwu means God’s kindness. Ogommadu on the other hand means Man’s kindness. Above all, Chukwuma means God knows. The three names put together mean: God knows why his divine kindness and human kindness are necessary. He also knew why Ogochukwu and Ogommadu came to visit me on that hopeful Tuesday mid-morning.
As I was guessing, Ogommadu stood up and offered me his bag containing a Bible, a Crucifix and a Rosary bead. He said, “Father, accept these little heavenly gifts as support to your ministry. Use them for your own sanctification and for the spiritual wellbeing of the flock entrusted to you.” I accepted them with extraordinary joy. Appreciation was written on my face. As I was placing the three powerful weapons on my table, I saw the devil running away. Before I could open my mouth to express my heartfelt gratitude, Ogommadu stood up and offered me his own bag whose contents were: a heavy sealed envelope, a bunch of adult banana, a bottle of red wine, a bottle of groundnut and a giant loaf of bread.
I accepted the bag with two hands because of the weight. Instantly my spirit and my body started dancing together for joy. The two gifts from Ogochukwu and Ogommadu balanced my spiritual and material needs which would propel me to work harder in the Lord’s vineyard. I told the two august visitors that I lacked words to express my profound gratitude. In fact they surprised me. Despite the COVID-19 protocol, which forbids close contact, I embraced Ogochukwu and Ogommadu happily. Since love is reciprocal, I offered Ogochukwu a book titled “My Heavenly Reward”.
To Ogommadu I gave a book titled “My Earthly Journey”. The two essential spiritual books are complimentary. If we make good earthly journey, then we shall receive our reward in heaven. But if we make bad journey here on earth we shall miss our glorious destination. The two august visitors were very glad. We embraced each other again. Before they left, I asked them to kneel down for God’s blessings. They left happier than they came. On my own part, I sat happier than before.
God is a generous provider. He cares for all. He blesses everybody accordingly. His sun shines on everyone. His rain falls for everyone. He entrusted the earth and everything in it into our hands for our spiritual and material benefits. He is the Father of all, small and great alike. In the Lord’s Prayer, He is addressed as “Our Father.” Going further we ask Him: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Lk 11:3). As the great Provider, God feeds all He created: human beings, animals and plants.
Hence we are told not to worry about what we are to eat, what we are to drink and what we are to wear because “Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself” (Mtt 6:32 – 34).
In the Holy Scripture we see Ogochukwu and Ogommadu in action. The second Book of Kings 4:8-11, 14-16 tells us how the Prophet Elisha made his way to a town called Shunem. A wealthy childless woman who lived there welcomed him to her house and also gave him something to eat as often as he came. In addition, with the consent of her husband, she added an apartment in their house for Elisha to rest before continuing his prophetic journey whenever he came across. At last, Elisha asked what he could do for the generous woman.
At this, Elisha’s companion Gehazi told him that the woman had no child and her husband was old. To show appreciation, Elisha asked Gehazi to call the woman. When she came, Elisha blessed her and said, “By this time next year, you will carry a son in your hands” (2Kings 4:16). Human kindness attracts God’s kindness. In other words if we give to others, we shall receive fourfold from God. Jesus Christ tells us, “Ask, you shall receive”(Mtt 7:7). Implicitly he also tells us, “Give and you shall receive.” This we read in the Gospel of Luke 6:38 “Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap; because the standard you use will be the standard used for you.”
If God gives us, then we should give to one another. Generosity is in the heart and not in the hand. It is the heart that propels the hand to give. Those who have gummy hands find it difficult to give to others. Such persons are called misers. They receive but they do not give.
They only hear ‘receive’ while they are dumb when it comes to give. Two good friends travelled together to a weekend summit in the car belonging to one of them. At the end, each of the participants was given a fat envelop for fueling. On their way home, they engaged in friendly discussion. But whenever the car owner as well as the driver enters a filling station for fuelling, his friend sleeps off. Immediately they come out he awakes. Can you guess why he sleeps off? Misers die miserly while givers die joyfully.
According to Jayson D. Bradley, there are twenty reasons why we should give to others: “Giving is how God demonstrates his love for us. Giving makes you happy. Giving communicates something important about our world view. Giving is the way God blesses others. Giving helps us to live longer. Giving joyfully makes God happy. Giving increases our social connectedness.
Giving is an act of obedience. Giving is contagious. Giving gives your life meaning. Giving battles depression. Giving puts God in our debt. Giving increases our confidence. Giving builds trust. Giving makes you listen differently. Giving makes you look at your resources differently. Giving generates contentment. Giving promotes a universal good. Giving helps create lasting relationships. Giving makes you likeable.” If we start to give to others, then we shall start to experience the above twenty benefits of being generous. Have we not heard this popular saying? “Givers never lack.” To crown it all the Bible says, “It is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
No one is self sufficient. In washing hands, we can see that the right hand washes the left hand. In turn the left hand reciprocates. The rich man provides for the poor man. The biblical rich man went to hell because he failed to give food to the poor man Lazarus while they were on earth. On the other hand, Lazarus did not go to heaven because of his poverty but because he was a good man.
A poor selfish man or woman can also go to hell if he or she fails to be charitable. The poor ought to give something to others, no matter how little. A rich man may not have a pear tree or a mango tree in his compound. When the poor man or poor woman harvests his or her pear or mango, he or she is expected to give some to the rich man who provides for him or her. In a certain market place sat a beggar asking passersby for alms. At that moment he was eating roasted corn. A rich man came across in his luxurious jeep.
The poor man was very hopeful. Surprisingly, the rich man asked the beggar for the roasted corn. With grudges the beggar gave him only three grains of the corn. The rich man threw them into his mouth and drove off. The beggar cursed him for eating his corn and offering him nothing in return. Two hours later, the rich man came back and offered the beggar three thousand Naira. Surprisingly, the beggar instead of being appreciative, fell down and started crying and regretting. He sighed and shouted, “Had I known, I would have given him the whole ear of corn!”
In conclusion, God is a generous giver. We as His creatures, created in His own image and likeness, ought to emulate his generosity. If we receive everything from God, then we are bound to share our spiritual and material resources with others. After my breakfast three days ago, I was contemplating economically about the next meal. Without any prior notice, two siblings paid me a surprise visit. The name of one of them was Chinenye (God gives) while the other was called Mmadunenye (Man gives). They just came back from Abuja after the lifting of the COVID-19 interstate travel ban. Opening their car’s boot, Chinenye offered me a bag of rice. Her sibling Mmadunenye gave me the sum of twenty thousand Naira to buy condiments for the rice. Please, if you are hungry, come and share with me.