By Wadada Rogers
KAMPALA –UGANDA/ NEWSDAY: I have desired to write about this topic but was hesitant to take some people by surprise.
The chance only availed itself when some people refused to preside over prayers organized for the deceased Paul Kato Lubwama alleging he was a secular traditionalist who believed in African chemistry for lack of a better word.
Left with no option, the organizers called upon Aloysius Bujingo to lead the mourners into what appeared to be a funeral service for the comedian/musician/dramatist and former Member of Parliament for Rubaga South. The Catholic Church has another chance to clean its name lest they will have to tell us what method they use to distinguish believers and non-believers.
As all this hullabaloo was going on, the church had managed to send a warning to the “living dead” to be careful with the way they conducted themselves while still alive lest no church leader will bless their final send off.
The contradiction lies in the way they are quick to pray for the corrupt, killers to name but a few whose living relatives pay to be prayed for yet are quick to judge and condemn the Kato Lubwamas of this world. If he confessed to believing in his ancestors, who knows if he was only being a comedian that he was or repented. In other words, the Priest was telling us he cannot pray for a sinner.
I have not heard of an incident in which the Muslims abandoned one of their own because they suspected them for playing double standards or paying allegiance to ancestors.
To Muslims, a deceased person continues to benefit by any good action, which they initiated during their lifetime.
In addition to his own action and good deeds, a believer is followed after his death by certain things including knowledge that he might have taught or made available, a good child he left behind, a copy of the Qur’an he left to someone, a mosque he built, a home he left to be used by travelers, running water he caused to be available, a charity he gave away when he was still in good health.
I do not want to pretend to be more religious than the Pope but I have basic knowledge on some of these practices that were imported here by the white man. Before their coming, people were dying and were buried without prayers.
Should we say they went to hell just because nobody prayed for their souls before burial? Who says it is only a religious leader whose prayers matter during such moments, who says a person, cannot be buried without some form of prayer or it was a practice copied out of indoctrination? What I write here is not what I believe in but the little knowledge I acquired before I saw the light and quit to become neutral.
It is the conduct of the church in rejecting Kato Lubwama that made me wonder if these final prayers benefit the dead or the living mourners. To answer myself, I sought some answers from the bible, a book that Paul Kato Lubwama believed in. It appears we have no power to judge any one when it comes to life after death. There is a likelihood that God uses a special yardstick to determine those that he takes with him.
A case in point is a sinful Moses who disobeyed God in the book of numbers when he hit the rock beyond instructions given to him by God. We are told God was upset and took him away. He is said to have been sighted in the clouds during the transfiguration alongside Prophet Elijah meaning he was forgiven of his sin.
For those who have read the books of Psalms 146:4 and Ecclesiastes 9:5 will agree with me that prayers on behalf of the dead have no meaning, for nothing can be changed by them since the dead no longer have any physical or mental activity. To that extent, the books of John 5:28 and Daniel 12:2, Job 19;25, John 3:13 and Acts 2:29 etcetera tell us that each person who dies sleeps in his grave in unconsciousness until the resurrection. Clearly, prayers should be for the living while there is still hope for repentance not for the dead, who can do nothing, your prayers in this regard are in vain and serve different purposes not beneficial to the dead.
Prayers for the dead are based on the false teaching that man possesses an immortal soul. Some believe that at death a wicked person’s “immortal” soul is tormented in hell. Friends and relatives then pray that the departed “soul” be spared some of its suffering.
However, the Bible in the book of Ezekiel 18:4 says that the soul itself can die. There are absolutely no biblical grounds for the doctrine of the immortality of the Saul. Why then we call upon religious leaders to offer prayers during funeral services, why should we get offended when they refuse.
I know for a fact that religious leaders always demand for hefty sums of money before presiding over a funeral services or even a burial. I guess they also pray for people to die so that they can make money. As if that is not enough, they also go ahead to extort some money from the mourners in the name of offertory.
The Bible doesn’t clearly demand us to pray for the dead but it does say that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
The Bible tells us that a person will be judged based on this life, so nothing we pray after a person dies will make a difference.
The Bible is clear that God is the judge, so our prayers asking God for mercy on a dead person would be done in vain. If you are the kind who thinks there is heaven and that it was constructed for your comfort, your mouth and heart must be in consensus id idem which is only possible when you are alive. Whatever is done after your death is ceremonial only intended to appease the living and to scare them into obedience.
After we have died, we will stand before God and be judged. Every person will have their day of judgment. Here are a few scriptures that speak about judgment: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. A closer look of the book of 2 Corinthians 5:10 puts the whole debate into perspective. (Underlined for emphasis).
The final nail on the coffin as far as this subject is concerned is illustrated by the book of Revelations 20:11-13 which says and I saw the dead small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of life.
And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged each one according to his works while still alive on this earth.
The above is an eye opener to those who thought prayers or funeral services serve any meaningful purpose. The scripture above show there is no amount of pleading, interceding or prayers that can amend the heavenly charge sheet one a man dies.
His fate is sealed the moment he is pronounced dead, the crying is only venting out the human pain, the prayers are only psychological, the rest is judgment based on works while one was still alive. The refusal to preside over the prayer at Kato Lubwama home was not a rejection of Kato but the Mourners and the family who needed some spiritual nourishment to do some stock taking with their own lives. Rest in Peace Kato Lubwama.
Wadada Rogers is a commentator on political, legal and social issues.
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