We are gathered here to celebrate the life of the late Rev. Prof. Frederick Ntedika Mvumbi a priest and member of Dominican Friars in the East African Province, to comfort Rev. Fr. Gedion Muchira and entire Dominican Friars within the Province and beyond as well as Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Mulu, the Parish Priest, his associate priests and the Christians of St. Catherine of Siena for the loss and pain caused by the passing on of a dedicated servant and confrere.
The late Fr. Fredrick was a gift given to us by God, a great religious, educationist, mentor and lover of the youth. Many years ago in obedience to the mandate of Christ “…Go to the whole world and make disciples of all nations, MT. 28: 19 – 20 he left his homeland, parents, relatives, friends in the Democratic Republic of Congo to join Dominican Friars to serve and lead the People of God to the Heavenly Kingdom.
We have a reason to mourn because a great missionary has passed on, a reason to rejoice because he has touched many lives through preaching the Gospel and celebration of sacraments especially baptisms and marriages he officiated. We further have a reason to praise God because of the great contribution he has made in education through his writings and students he supervised for Masters and Doctorate.
Humanly speaking it is hard to believe that Fr. Fred is gone. However, it is true, he is gone. Inside this coffin lies remains of his lifeless body. We are here to say good bye and honor him in the best way we can as we give thanks to God for years we spent together. God gave him to us as a gift, the same God has taken him back to Himself. In the words of Job, we can only say: “…..Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord….” Job 1: 21.
The first reading from the book of Job : 19: 1, 23-27b, presents Job making a confession of Faith that God is the Redeemer. Despite the pain and suffering, he does not fear to confront his friends who are a source of temptation to ridicule God. Job stands out clear to defend his uprightness. In his sufferings, Job does not fault God. He acknowledges his dependency to the mercy and province of God in his life as a weak creature.
Inspired by the words of Job, we affirm our conviction of eternal life. Job believes he will see God as presented in Job 19: 26: where he says; “…Whom I myself shall see, my own eyes, not another’s , shall behold him..” Job 19: 26
The Psalmist in Psalm 23: 1-3,4,5,6, declares that : The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want. He hopes to see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. This invites us though faced with pain, despair, and sorrow to hope in God, hold firm to his goodness and to take courage. The Lord provides and protects those who trust in him.
The second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans 5:5-11 invites us to have hope that does not disappoint. This encourages us to remain united in prayer always seeking guidance of the Holy Spirit to do God’s will. St. Paul exhorts the Romans by reminding them Christ died for humanity in its sinful state to make us adopted children of the Father in faith. We are invited to seek reconciliation with God and neighbor especially during this difficult mourning period. This means families which have misunderstandings to seek dialogue and reunion, fighting colleagues at work to support each other, unfaithful workers to change their lifestyle and become accountable of their deeds, lukewarm Christians to become active members of the Church groups and associations. Above all those who do not receive sacraments to amend their ways and enter into Church sacraments to nourish their souls and strengthen their faith. Living quality Catholic life marked by virtues of charity, prayer and sacrifice is the best gift we can give to late Fr. Fredrick who longed to see successful Catholic Christians and families.
In the Gospel according to St. Matthew 5: 1-12a, Jesus reveals that He is the new Moses ( Teacher of the Law). He teaches with authority. He provides a new rule of life for his followers, the Beatitudes. He invites his disciples to lead holy lives marked by practice of the law, good worship and acts of mercy. He challenges his disciples to become agents of change to fight evil of greed and selfishness and light that illumines the society for social transformation. The life of beatitudes moves disciples from corruption of death to Christ himself who conquered death by his resurrection.
Friends, despite persecutions, pain and misunderstandings as we live our Catholic life in different vocations and professions, we are called to believe firmly in Christ, hold faithfully to the teaching of the Church, practice charity and observe the commandments.
The cruel hand of death breaks bonds of friendship and shatters the dreams of Life of individuals and the communities. It brings sorrow to the hearts of loved ones and well wishers. Death strikes when least expected irrespective of one’s age, political status, financial ability, social influence or academic achievements.
Since there is no time when as people we are ready to die, we must try to live our earthly lives well. We belong not to this world, but to Jesus Christ who redeemed us by his blood.
Truly, the death of Fr. Fred reminds us of our short span of life here on earth. As we bid him farewell, let us pray that our Faith built on the risen Christ, may be strengthened and that our hope will remain steadfast as we await the resurrection of the dead.
As a preparation to our death, live well your life. Organize your desk, keep a clear will. This will help to give you a decent send off when your untimely death knocks either through road accident, plane crash, heart attack, long or short span of sickness. To married people show your assets, bank accounts and investments to your family. It pays to be accountable, transparent and honest. Do not live your community or family in darkness when you are gone. Secrets are good but keep only secrets which do not hurt your parents, brothers and sisters.
Let us pray that God may grant the late Fr. Fredrick the abode of peace and light and number him among his saints. Amen.
For the Dominican friars, family members, friends and ourselves, may God strengthen our faith and comfort us with his Holy Spirit.
Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Fredrick Oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.
Rev. Fr. Celestino Bundi Mutea
KCCB MISSIO INVEST AFRICA