By Rev Fr Pat Amobi Chukwuma
A forth night ago, I came across a wretched man walking along a lonely road. He looked tired and dejected. He was breathing like someone at the point of death. The spirit of charity took hold of me. I packed my car and rushed towards him to see if I could render him any useful help. At least I wanted to offer him a lift to his destination and also to give him something to eat.
I saluted him with smiles and handshake, not minding the Covid-19 protocols. He was very much appreciative. He laughed like a skeleton. His skeletal physique kept me in serious doubt. I asked myself if the man came from the land of the living or from the land of the dead. I couldn’t muster the courage to put the question before him for fear of the unknown.
However, I was able to ask him two pertinent questions: “Where do you come from and where are you going?” He sneezed thrice before answering. Since prevention is better than cure, I used my white handkerchief to cover my mouth and nose due to the dangerous bacteria he released into the air. Then he cleared his weak throat and replied, “I came from nowhere and I am going nowhere.
Please go away before it is too late.” At this moment fear grasped me. I stylishly walked to my car and sprinkled my whole body with Holy Water. Then I sped off. I was speculating if the man is a ghost or a human being since he came from nowhere and was going to nowhere. In other words he began nowhere and is ending nowhere. Indeed this world is in the language of Engligbo ‘imilimious’ (mysterious).
If you are driving, beware of whom you offer a lift. Everything that has a beginning must have an end. The day begins at dawn and ends at dusk. It runs from morning till night. The biblical analysis of creation says, “In the beginning, when God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth had no form and was void; darkness was over the deep and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters”(Genesis 1: 1-2).
Hence God said, “Let there be light” (Gen 1:3). So it was. He made the sun to mark the day and the night. When the sun rises, it becomes day. When it sets, it becomes night. God arranged it in such a way that the day does not break at the same time globally. Likewise is the night. Thus while some are sleeping at night in their own part of the world, others elsewhere are working in the field.
Human life would have been boring if it is day without end. There would have been no counting of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. One’s age would have been difficult to count. When you go to market, transaction continues days without end.
Some people out of exhaustion would collapse and die in the market, school, factories, farms, church, etc. There would have been nothing like morning and night. In fact God is not a small boy. He planned everything before time began to suit himself and his creatures. Let us give God a standing ovation for his infinite wisdom.
Only God has neither a beginning nor an end. He is the Beginning and the End himself. That is why he is called the Alpha and the Omega. I have seen some people with the nickname Omega, but none is called Alpha. God is completeness par excellence while human beings are incomplete. He is also known as the Supreme Being. Aristotle referred to him as the Unmoved Mover.
He propels everything into motion and remains motionless himself (Akwaakwuru). He is omniscient (all-knowing), Omnipotent (all-powerful) and Omnipresent (present everywhere). It will be wonderful when we shall see his glory in heaven. There we shall know him well. At the moment, our minds are limited.
God created Angels to worship and serve him forever in heaven. The Angels have a beginning but they have no end because they are pure spirits. The fallen angels ended up in hell. Is it possible for the fallen angels to repent so that hell can be closed for ever? What will be the fate of the damned souls in hell? There are good spirits and evil spirits. Spirits are invisible as far as human eyes are concerned. Nonetheless, we can only behold embodied spirits, whether good or evil.
The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, were created directly by God from the soil of the earth. Afterwards God continues to create indirectly through conception in the womb of a woman, after the copulation of male and female. Specifically, human life begins at conception and not at birth. Once the sperm fertilizes the egg, God inserts the soul.
Biologically we can say that human life begins at conception and ends at death. However, human death is not an end in itself. Rather it is the end of a new beginning. In other words, human life is transformed at death but not ended. It is a transition from mortality to immortality.
This physical world itself has a beginning and will eventually come to an end on the day God so designates, which is not known to human mind. This is why this physical world is temporal. Any day someone dies is the end of his or her own world. Why does the Bible say that the day of death is more important than the day of birth? (Ecclesiastes 7:1). Common sense can answer it.
The day of birth ushers us into this sinful and suffering world while the day of death ushers into eternal glory or damnation. Our Igbo women sing at funerals that we have only two days to spend in this world: the day of birth and the day of death. All those now alive are spending the first day and are waiting anxiously for the second day which remains unknown.
Most of us celebrate Birthday and ignore Death-day. We are cognizance of our birthdays. Our death-days are uncertain. Probably that is why it is not celebrated. But we can celebrate the death-day of our dear ones. I think it is better that we do not know our death day. If we know it, it will surely raise a lot of tensions. Our blood pressure will continue to rise as the death day approaches.
It can also bring laziness. Planning for tomorrow will be zero. A wide research shows that most people prefer not knowing their death day. The only remedy is to get prepared always. From experience no one is ever prepared enough for death. Are you? I went to a bookshop and saw two books tilted: Preparation to Live and Preparation to Die. I bought the first and postponed the purchase of the latter. The fear of death is endemic. Nevertheless we must die.
By the way, which is senior between day and night? Who existed first: the egg or the chick? Welcome goes before goodbye. Joy follows welcome while sadness accompanies goodbye. Hence the Germans say, “Abschied tut weh.” This means that goodbye or departure brings pain. There is joy when a child is born. But when he or she dies, it brings sadness. Death is humanly seen as calamity. Even the salvaging death of Jesus Christ on the cross filled his followers with sadness.
How time runs fast. The year 2021 which began not long ago is about to end. It should be a time for sober reflection for each and every one of us. We must ask ourselves this common question: “How far?” Is it for me so far good, or so far bad? A person who goes to market must return. Then he or she sits down and renders account of his or her transaction.
Traders at the end of each year make what is called stock-taking. Have you or I taken stock of our lives in this year that is about to end? My people say that it is not good to start a dance like a man and then end up like a woman. An English adage says that well begun is well ended. Practice makes perfect. In athletic competition, a runner can begin a race well and ends up badly. Indeed the first can be last or the last first.
However, the end does not justify the means; rather the means justifies the end. Even if you come first but ran through another’s track, you are bound to be disqualified. A student who through malpractice comes out of examination in flying colors must surely crash along the line. If you led a good life earlier and died in the state of iniquity, then your salvation is not assured.
The end of the year is a period of sober reflection. It is a time of atonement for our misdeeds during the year. It would be a sad story if we carry over our past iniquities into the New Year. Hence we always make New Year Resolutions. Now, did we keep the resolutions we made at the beginning of this year 2021? God is our impeccable Examiner.
To end up well, we are morally bound to make restitution for anything we acquired unjustly. If you have through gossip damaged someone’s good name, then you must make necessary reparation. All the politicians who won primary or main elections through rigging must make necessary restitutions. Those who got their portfolios through the back door should resign with dignity before the hammer strikes.
We remain grateful to God that the highly tensed Anambra Governorship Election was peacefully and credibly done. We pray for the eternal repose of all those innocent persons who were politically killed prior to the election. Those who masterminded it must be brought to divine justice sooner or later. We await the solution of the Governor-Elect, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, come 17 March 2022, when Anambrarians will victoriously enter the Promised Land.