He is a player, always playing and making some fantastic dribbles , scoring heart- trick goals and sometimes missing the target. He shoots across the bar when not in his element, makes some infringements which earns him some caution cards. In all these, his fans are by day swelling ,cheering him even when the pelt from his detractors are hitting him hard.
Recently, I watched one of his spot kicks on face book, great kick, spot on ,with an artistry that left the goal keepers battling with an empty air. It was a goal, a fantastic one for that matter, even his detractors and critics ,didn’t know when they joined in the cheers and chorus of commendation.
The Kick was a very sensitive one, from an angle not too many players would dare, talk more of making a fantastic goal that wasn’t only a goal but turned the crowd both his opposition into a joyful mood. The Church is human, not infallible. She isn’t perfect, so can make mistakes, overreacts to things and misjudges in certain things. The Church isn’t a masquerade, fearful and unapproachable. She isn’t a know it all institution, who abhors correction and frowns at speaking truth to its conscience.
We are in an era, when the Church needs men who can speak to her conscience with audacity and boldness, not to destroy, mock, shame and disgrace, but to correct, rebuild and amend the ills and practices which for years have put the body of Christ in a place of public criticisms. This great player ( Fr .Mbaka) dribbled right into the eighteen yard box of the church’ practices and powerfully made a kick on burial levies, dues and demands.
Years gone, no one asked, confined and sick, none cared. Pained and discomforted by the travail of illness, shriveled and malnourished by lack ,like a shadow of himself he looks, no visit, no charity and no love . Sometimes from the body of Christ, his absence from the gathering of believers oftentimes not noticed.
When death calls and the soul passes on, levies , dues, money for this money , money for that before burial could be fixed become a talking point from those who never cared as little as paying a visit while he battles with the arrows of sickness.
They hold on to it and threaten to deny burial if those levies are not discharged. What are these levies and dues for one dares ask ? Could the levies possibly be a help in heralding the soul of the deceased to the glorious presence of God? As these go on, right from the church community where each society and organisations jostles to get their pound of flesh, the umunnadi, umunwanwa,( Paternal and maternal people) come with theirs too , shoving it down as law and order without its fulfillment, the burial rites and process become stalled.
In most cases, those who make and place such traditional burial demands are themselves strangers to the deceased, from the maternal people in the case of a man and from paternal home in the case of a woman.
They have no relationship with the deceased while alive, never deemed it necessary to visit and keep company while age and ill health take a toll on them, but once the soul passes on, list of things to give and pay, surfaces with an entitlement spirit that most times can be irritating.
Kudos to Fr Ejike Mbaka, for speaking truth to the authority, saying it the way it is , the mind of many who were one time or the other victims. The one who needed you while he lived, yearned for your care and company, love and giving, words of encouragement and prayers while he struggles with with sore bed on his sick bed.
You gave none while he lives, but at death you become poised to collect levies and dues, flounce around as one important being that should be treated with awe and reverence. Isn’t this unchristain , selfish and uncharitable?
Many have gone into debt to bury their loved ones. Debt caused by the levies, dues and outrageous demands of umunnadi, umunwanwa,umunna and the Church. Nothing breaks a heart especially for those who struggle to eke out a living more than these irritating and oftentimes uncalled for levies and demands before they can bury their deceased ones.
When consolation is needed, when help is necessary, when love and care appear to be the most tonic to a grieving soul, levies,dues and irascible demands shouldn’t be the talking point. Many have left the Church, pained and emotionally wrecked because of these laws and customs. It is time for us to sue for a paradigm shift.
A shift from money consciousness to human, godly feelings and considerations to those whose hearts have been scorched by the death of loved ones For me this was a great spot kick from Fr Ejike Mbaka, who , unambiguously challenged his fellow priests to be human and considerate , dealing with those in such an emotionally fragile state.
For him levies and dues, sometimes in an outrageous manner may be counter productive to the growth and nurture of the bereaved spiritual growth. In all these let love guide, with a conscience that is neither dead nor perverted but one that lives and bask in the Holy Ghost.
If the Church should continue to march on, to that glorious presence of God, materialism, crave for inordinate and mundane things should take the back bench, projecting nothing but Christ crucified.
Show love to the deceased and add no extra financial burden to the bereaved.