Today is Easter Sunday. The church world over is celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Easter is the greatest feast for all Christians (not Christmas). On this day we are all delivered from the powers of darkness by the death of Jesus on the cross, and chains of sin and death are broken by His resurrection.
That’s why a whole lot of people of faith are gathered inside the Holy Family Basilica. I am at the sanctuary, part of the priests officiating this Easter Sunday mass.
From where I am I scan the congregation – occasional VIPs from the government are at their place, choir is like a legion of celestials and the parishioners and families put on happy faces. News cameras are rolling from the side aisles recording for the afternoon and evening news channel, photojournalists are busy blinding the whole church with their camera flashes such that bibles are instantly converted to braille and reporters are busy taking notes for tomorrow’s papers because the president decided to attend the Mass. I wonder why the hell they came to the church if they were not going to listen to the sermon.
His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, the archbishop of Nairobi, stands up for his homily. He steps up to the ambo. The gospel has just been read by a visiting priest from Uganda.
When the Cardinal speaks the whole church is so silent that one can hear his heart beating.
“A few months ago, the fear that had been instilled in us left us afraid for our lives even in the house of God. I remember the Christmas Eve mass being delayed for over three hours because there was a terrorist attack threat in this very church.
“The police warned us of such attacks, even to the point of barring us from celebrating the life that God has so abundantly blessed us with. Why? How is it possible that we are our own enemy?”
Hushed silence rules, worse than in a morgue.
“It is because we are peace-lovers, and we despise no one, but a group of humanity feels intimidated by our love for peace. Our gallant young men who defend the borders of this country are trying their very best to extent this to our neighbours, Somalia.
“Look around you – mother, where is your son? Wife, where is your husband? Children, where are your fathers? Where are our daughters? – They are not here to celebrate Easter with us. They are fighting this enemy of peace in a faraway country, a foreign land, putting their lives on the line in Somalia. They are our heroes. They are sacrificing, just like Christ did…”
My mind drifts off and… I am not in the church. Jeez, us! I feel awkward.
The events of the week come hurtling back. A part from a busy schedule brought about by the Holy Week, I felt that something was wrong by Thursday.
After the Holy Thursday evening mass I found myself at loggerheads with myself. I knew that all hell on earth was going to burst loose. The gut feeling, the hunches, maybe an even oh-so-certain inner voice was constantly telling me that something was terribly wrong somewhere.
Like the death knell, I could hear it deep inside me. It’s time I changed. Then I realized that there was nothing that could change me.
“We are all linked. Everyone here. Regardless of whom you are. We might be different, but the blood of Jesus Christ has brought us together.” Something brought me out of my reverie, or some imaginary intercom almost tore my eardrums saying, “Earth to Frank…”
“And now let’s stand up and proclaim our faith by reciting the Apostles Creed.” The Cardinal has finished his homily and I haven’t heard a quarter of it. This tells me that I ought to change.
But change to what? Or change what? It’s not a change of underwear, you know! I have this feeling deep inside me that keeps telling me that I am losing Shiri, my Jewish Princess
I feel her slipping through my fingers. Love slipping away. Of all women I have cheated, and played (including Sister Batel), this one woman I like, and I’m beginning to love her. I mean, LOVE HER, but such emotions are denied to me by my vocation.
I think I know why I am feeling this way – I have not talked to her the whole of this week. Seven days is a long time. Her phone has been off. I miss her like hell, love her more than I tell, or show.
That is my sin – I, Father Frank, I am niggardly in love.