Bishop Banda’s Homily for the Requiem Mass of the late Mr. Mark James Mutati
The bereaved family, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Today, we offer this Eucharist for the repose of the Soul of Mr. Mark James Mutati, our father, our father-in-law, our uncle, our grandfather, brother and our friend. Mr. Mutati answered God’s call at a ripe age; at 90 years, 11 months, 19 days, 13 hrs 30 minutes and a couple of seconds.
Our hearts are full of sadness at his passing away, yet we are filled with profound gratitude for such a gift that he was to the family (as an ancestor), to the Church (as an ardent Catholic) and to the community of Zambia (as a dedicated and passionate civil servant) who gave himself unreservedly in the service of neighbour in the various parts of our country. We will surely remember him for his availability and for his staunch Catholicism – values which he so cherished and are imbued and vivid in his descendants.
The Lord gives – the Lord takes away. These two short statements summarize our coming together this afternoon. The God who gave us Mr. Mutati has chosen in His wisdom to bring his earthly life to a close. In so doing God invites us now to yield him back to Himself with faith in His eternity.
Let us now turn and reflect on the readings that we listened to. In our readings, we heard the emphasis of blessedness of women. And in the Gospel reading, St. Luke exemplifies this blessedness in Mary as Elizabeth salutes her – as being blessed for accepting to carry the fruit of the promise. Elisabeth is also blessed because in normal circumstances an old woman becoming pregnant is next to impossibility (lusengo lwambwa).
However, this is the very sign God is giving to Mary when her cousin Elizabeth conceives a child in her old age, to show her His power. God shows His Power where a woman that is past child bearing age becomes pregnant. And it follows that there should be no doubt about a virgin’s pregnancy. Because nothing is impossible with God.
In life we experience blessings and graces from God. However, there are times when we take these blessings for granted, and we don’t seem to be grateful. We become grateful
by sharing with others who are most in need. Blessings are meant to be shared. We ought to keep in mind that it is not on our own accord that we are blessed – but on account to become blessings for others, becoming conduits and conveyor belts (pande). This is what Mary does in the Gospel passage. She goes to share her blessings with her cousin – she makes herself available to her, sharing with her the good news – her availability to the will of God, her belief in the promise fulfilled – God becoming man.
There are great abilities that people acquire, cultivate and indeed demonstrate such as: sociability, accountability, adaptability and reliability. However, in the service of God and neighbour, availability surpasses all. If we are not available to God and neighbour, no matter what we would have achieved, or what we would have become – it is not good enough.
Ability without availability is a liability. Availability means that there is a sense of preparedness and readiness for others. Mr. Mutati was available, prepared and ready for others. He served in remote and hard reach areas of our country save for Ndola. He served in Mazabuka, Mwinilunga, Chavuma, Zambezi and Solwezi. Only to retire and settle amongst his people, at Mukupa Kaoma, Lunten, in Mporokoso.
There are people in life who are prepared, but they are simply not available. Sometimes people assume God cannot use them because they do not have great abilities, special talents or gifted aptitudes. They feel they are just ordinary and do not have anything special for God’s use. However, God does not ask about our ability, but our availability – that preparedness and readiness to serve others, regardless.
We thank God for the life of Mr. Mutati, especially his availability, his preparedness and his readiness to serve both God and neighbour. He goes where he cannot come back – but where we shall all go to meet with him in the Lord. He goes before us as our intercessor. He lived our life, he knows our needs and he can now present them for us to the Lord. Adios Mr. Mutati and farewell. May Mary, Mother of the sorrowful intercede for us. Amen.