While historical comparisons can come off the cuff, it’s never easy to compare the living with the fictional. And there is a simple explanation to this. First is the truism that whereas the one has God’s blood flowing through their veins, the other remains the creation of a mere mortal.
Yet occasionally the occasion calls for indulgence in this rare but inevitable pastime. Like this pen is being urged to on account of the recent travails of Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka the Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry Enugu Nigeria (AMEN).
Like every nominal member of the Holy Roman Catholic Church can attest, we have forever been weaned on the belief that wearing that revered toga is no mean achievement. You know, like made us willingly break our ancestor’s idols for the new way.
Especially pungent here being the purported abandonment of blood sacrifices for the less sanguine conversion of wine to blood at the Eucharist. Though seldom offered us these days, it’s exclusively reserved for some.
The more so when one is numbered among its clergy. Access to altar wine apart, there is no doubt that many former sons of a nobody has by it become somebody. Only that they cannot themselves father anybody in return. After attaining almost the best ever training possible, they are then exposed to one of the noblest cures any human can inherit – tending souls. What with the power to hear and forgive sins confessed by their flock!
However, what is most crucial in this case is the fact that one side cannot be taken without the other. Yes, even your seniors will stand up as you enter a gathering and shake you with their either hands. Yet quite often, the life you’d be commanded to live for it may at times not be worth these finicky perks.
Bringing us to the matter at hand. That Father Mbaka recently ran into troubled waters with his bishop is no longer news. Just like the fact that he has also tendered an unreserved apology and abided to his superior’s reprimand.
Surely, he must have learnt some lessons from other notable priests who had ridden that rough thoroughfare before.
Nearer home, there was the case of the late Father Anozia. At the height of his charismatic priesthood, he damned the Church and paid the price.
Farther away, there was Archbishop Milingo of Lusaka, Zambia. When he ran into troubled waters with Rome over his favourite pastimes of exorcism and faith healing, he refused to recant. Laicized for the recalcitrance, he not only married but ended up championing the cause of married priests. Yet when the chips came tumbling down, he could not but capitulate.
There are also the front runners of Liberation Theology in South America. Priests like Leonardo Boff in Brazil were literally brought to their knees by the Vatican.
Needless to opine, there is no doubt that our brother must have imbibed the necessary lesson from these frontrunners of the charismatic brigade. Hence the stitch he helmed in time for the avoidance of nine.
O yes, for otherwise he would have had to cope with a likeness of lot with them. One that would only have been comparable with fictional characters in fate.
O yes, of them now.
While many abound the world over, one from home will surely suffice.And none else fits the bill like Okonkwo the son of Unoka so ably limned out by the late Chinua Achebe in his epic novel Things Fall Apart.
Notably, his rise from grass to grace and back again is quite apt here. Like when he carelessly desecrated the Holy Week. It was judged by all as comparable to that of nza, one of the tiniest of birds who had the temerity to challenge his chi to a wrestling match after a meal too heavy by half.
In another encounter in the novel, Okonkwo was to denigrate a title-less man in metaphor. It took the oldest man in the gathering to remind him that ‘those whose palm-kernels were cracked by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.’
Humility is the word. For if Reverend Mbaka had possessed it in the first place, the whole matter would not have come to this. Just like Father Anozia, Archbishop Milingo, Leonardo Boff and Chinua Achebe’s antihero.
–Isidore Emeka Uzoatu, author of the novel Vision Impossible, wrote in from Onitsha