By Pat Amobi Chukwuma
Whatever that has a beginning must have an end. There was a certain humble woman who unluckily married a wicked wealthy man. There was no day that passes without the husband beating her mercilessly. Her entire body was full of bruises. She lost her three front teeth and her left eye as a result of fatal punches from her lawfully wedded husband. In fact, her face looked like a battle field. She endured everything because of the “for better, for worse” vow she took at the altar of God on their wedding day some years ago. Hardly did she experience 'for better'. Rather, 'for worse' was her daily bread. Her cry from time to time was: “When will this ill-fated marriage come to an end?” An inner voice answered her, “Until death do us part.” Thus her frequent point of prayer was for the obnoxious marriage to come to an end as quickly as possible. In other words, she was praying for the death of her wicked husband. Did she pray correctly? If you were God, would you answer her prayer? What of if her prayer was answered the other way by herself dying, which is also the end of the unhappy marriage?
Any way I do not blame her since the casket maker prays for his daily bread. If no one dies, will he get his daily bread? Unfortunately, when he is praying he does not envisage his own death or death of any member of his own family. To cut the story short, the wicked husband in question died on the spot in a ghastly car accident. The bruised and bereaved widow dramatized her sorrow by crying profusely on the burial day of her deceased wicked husband. But in her heart, she was happily saying, “Thank God that this ill-fated marriage has ended today.” She cried outwardly and rejoiced internally.
If something is enjoyable, you pray that the end may not come soon. However, if the reverse is the case, you pray that the end may come soonest. If you are enjoying sleep at night, you would wish that dawn may delay in coming. But if you suffer from loss of sleep or insomnia, you would wish that the day breaks here and now. When I was in the seminary, I prayed that the years might run fast so that I become a priest. After my ordination I prayed that the pace of the years may slow down so that I can reap fruits from the Lord's vineyard and not to grow old in haste. Nonetheless, by the grace of God I have laboured in the Lord's vineyard for twenty-six years now. Also, I stood before the mirror few days ago and saw that my facial appearance is waning. As I was taking my routine evening walk last week, something happened. A boy was quarrelling with an elderly man. The boy shouted, “Old man, mind yourself. Don't provoke me again!” The old man retorted, “Foolish boy! When you get home call your father an old man.” Do you see? No one wants to get old. Recently, I came across an old man of about seventy-five years still answering Boyoyo. Considering his age, should he not answer Payoyo?
Now let me hit the hammer at the nail. The year 2019 is drawing to a close. Those who experienced happiness this year would wish that the year does not end. On the other hand, those who saw hell this year would wish that 2019 is deleted from their memory. Nevertheless, we began this year 2019 with joy on 1st January after the cross-over night of 31st December 2018. Not all who began the year 2019 are alive today to witness another cross-over to the special year 2020. We who are alive are not better than those who have died. It is by the grace of God that we are alive till now. Therefore, we owe much gratitude to God and pray that we may successfully cross over to the New Year 2020. I have seen people who died on 31st December, just few hours to the New Year. The future is uncertain. God save us!
Each year ends with the jubilation of the Birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which falls on 25 December. It is the mother of all birthdays. The prophets of the Old Testament prophesied about the coming of the Messiah after the unfortunate downfall of man from grace to grace. Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. As a result they were driven away from Paradise to dungeon. Their sin is known as Original Sin. All their offspring, including you and I, contracted the virus. As a result of the sin of disobedience, Heaven was shut. John the Baptist, who was the last prophet and forerunner of Jesus Christ, prophesied about the birth of the Saviour whom he was not worthy to untie his sandals. John dispensed the baptism of repentance at River Jordan with water. When the Messiah came he baptizes with fire and the Holy Spirit. John was beheaded by King Herod for speaking the truth. God is Truth personified. The Bible says that the truth shall set us free (John 8:32).
Christmas means the Incarnation of the Word to save sinful mankind. Thus, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. He is called Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us'. All those who go by the name Emmanuel or Immanuela and are not imitating the Lord Jesus Christ in spite of human weakness, should change their names to Satanuel (Satan is with us). If Christ was not born, mankind would not have been redeemed. But thank God he was born. At his birth, the closed door of heaven was once again reopened to humanity. No wonder the Angels of God on that Holy Night exclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill!” Oh, come let us adore Him!
The birth of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift of God to mankind. We imitate God by giving to others. I hope we still remember the twins Anayo and Anaenye. We ask God something in prayer and He gives us. We should also give to others. Thus, December 26 is Boxing Day. There was an illiterate man who understood only the literal meaning of boxing. On Boxing Day last year, as soon as he got up from bed, he gave a heavy blow with his clenched hands on the face of his wife. Her face was instantly disfigured and she cried, “Papa Joy, what have I done to you this morning?” She wept and wept. The unperturbed illiterate husband shouted, “Mama Joy, happy Boxing Day!” She was rushed to hospital immediately. The doctor seeing her disfigured face asked her, who did this to you and why?” Tearfully she replied, “It is my husband practicing Boxing Day on my face.” The doctor and nurses couldn't control their laughter. The police arrested the illiterate husband and charged him to court for wife abuse. He was given 24 lashes of koboko for three days at the Correctional Centre. Boxing Day does not mean physical boxing but rather, putting our gifts in a box and offering it to others, especially our loved ones and the less privileged in our society.
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is the Ideal Family. Could you see the hierarchical order of the family members? Because Jesus is God he goes first, followed by his Mother, the Virgin Mary and then Joseph his foster father. No wonder in any family where a priest or religious comes from, even if he or she is the last born, he or she becomes the first in hierarchy, followed by Papa Father, Papa Sister, Papa Monk, Papa Brother. Then comes Mama Father, Mama Sister, Mama Brother, Mama Monk. Others then follow. The priest or religious henceforth becomes a model in the family. It is disastrous if the priest or religious is a thorn in the flesh in his or her family. All families on earth should imitate the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is a peaceful, respectful and loving family. This year 2019, the Holy Family Sunday falls on 29 December, which happens to be the last Sunday of the year. It calls for sober reflection and for reconciliation of family members who are at loggerhead with one another. It is a day of prayer and thanksgiving to God for his blessings on every family, no matter the odds experienced through this year. A family that prays together stays together. The family is a domestic church. May the graces that emanate from the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph dwell in all families!
As the year 2019 comes to an end, we make an honest resolve to do better in all ramifications in the New Year 2020. We pray that our country Nigeria in distress through the intervention of God may be counted among the Comity of Nations in 2020. May our leaders at the state and national levels come back to their senses and toe the path of sacrifice and progress for the glory of God and for the wellbeing of all Nigerians. As I sign off here, I wish my numerous readers, all and sundry a Merry Christmas and a fruitful New Year! See you in 2020, if God permits. Goodbye!