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Living In Christ

Living In Christ

Revelation 20:11-21:1; Psalm 116; Romans 14:7-9. 10c-12; John 11:21-27
Homily for the funeral of Rev. Fr. Robert Obro, SMA
We are gathered this morning to celebrate the life of Fr. Robert Obro. I met him while I was in Philosophy. He was one of my formators. I used to look forward to his homilies. He had this knack of making very serious issues light. He had a bubbly personality and as far as my memory of him can take me, he had a good sense of humour. I used to look forward to the time he was scheduled to preach in the formation house because his reflections were usually spice with fun and laughter. We all see people from our different perspectives, so, whatever side of his person you remember, you are right. Only God has the capacity to see the bigger picture in anyone’s life. We often see people from where we are in life and my reflection is based on how I experienced him.

For parishioners of Holy Family, he assisted us in one of our Advent retreats. He was on his way to Tanzania for his sabbatical when he passed by. I got a couple of calls from some parishioners on whose mind he left an impression. Fr. Obro was born on the 9th September, 1962 and he hails from Elume in Delta State. He became a member of the Society of African Missions on the 4th of December 1994. He was ordained a priest in the SMA on the 17th August, 1996. After his ordination, he was assigned to Cote D’Ivoire, where he spent about two years. From Cote D’Ivoire, he was sent to the Central African Republic from 1998 to 2001. He returned form CAR to the Formation House in Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State from 2001 to 2004. After his stint at formation, he went to the University of Ibadan to do a Masters in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution between 2004 and 2006. After his Masters, he was reassigned to Cote D’Ivoire. He later moved to Liberia for another mission from 2007 to 2009. He came back home for some special assignment between 2009 to 2013. In 2013, he assigned to Benin City for four years. He went for Sabbatical in Tanzania between 2017 and 2018. He was assigned to the SMA House in Uromi, Edo State till his death on the 23rd of April, 2020 at the age of 58. We pray that God will rest his soul in perfect peace. He has contributed his quota to the propagation of the Gospel of God in different parts of Africa as a missionary priest. We pray that the labour of his hands will continue to yield fruit and all those whose lives he has touched may bear witness to light of Christ.

From the readings today, I want to emphasize just an aspect about living life. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans 14, says if we live we live for the Lord and if we are dead, we die for God; so, whether alive or dead, our lives are for God. Let our lives be lived for God. In the Gospel of today, Martha said to Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. The same thoughts may occupy our minds as we reflect on the sickness leading to the death of Fr. Obro. We could say to God that Fr. Obro should not have died yet because he still had more to give. We could say God if you had been here, your priest should not have died. You should have done something to save him. Unfortunately, none of us knows the mind of God. As we live, we must make every moment of our lives meaningful. There is a favourite quote of mine usually ascribed to Maya Angelou, though some have debated this. It goes thus; our lives are measured not by how many breathes we take, our lives are measured by the moments that take our breathes away. This is the way to live; to multiply the moments that take our breathes away. My experience of Fr. Obro are filled with moments that took my breath away. The bubbly nature of his personality and his down- to-earth approach to life in spite of our age difference took my breath away. No one can adequately assess any other person’s life because our visions of them are limited. Only God sees the bigger picture. I would rather be judged by God than by any human person.

We commend Fr. Obro into God’s hands. As a priest, he tried to live his life to the best of his ability. We pray that Fr. Obro will continue to rest in the bosom of God, where he would no longer be limited by sickness, by complaint, by inadequacy. He would be in a place where limit does not exist, where conflicts are unheard-of, where peace reigns supreme. We pray that he would gain the peace that the world cannot give in God’s presence. When we preach at funeral masses, we preach not for those whose lives have ended, but for those still on lives journey. We remind ourselves of the ephemeral nature of our existence. As Superiors, as members of Religious Congregations, as parishioners, as family members, one thing is certain and unites us all. It is the fact that we shall all die. The nature and type of death we do not know. Our lives must be a constant preparation for our death. We must all strive to make impact. Life is too short to carry anger in our hearts; life is too short to be malicious. Life is for the living. If you are healthy today, celebrate that life. Our lives must be filled with thanksgiving. If I enjoy good health today, I must live in appreciation of that because I don’t know for how long I will be this healthy. That I have a little today, I want to celebrate that little because I am better off than those who haven’t .

We make our plans but we are not in control of the world. We all had several plans for the year but Corona Virus has hijacked our plans. The virus has forced us to do some introspection. Fr. Obro has lived his life and he would be committed to Mother Earth today. May God grant him pardon in whatever he left un-reconciled. What would people say about you when you die. We commiserate with his immediate family members, the Superiors of the SMA family, people whose lives Fr. Obro has impacted and his friends. We thank our Sisters the OLA for their warm presence and consoling words. There is something we all can do immortalise the memory of Fr. Obro. We may not build monuments. He would probably have a beautiful grave in the tradition of the SMA. But, going beyond this, we may want to imbibe those qualities in his personality that can make the world a better place. This is the way I can immortalise his memory. I would strive to check up on people; I would try to be a little more understanding towards people; I shall strive to be a little more cheerful. I don’t know what other aspect of his personality strikes you, but whatever in him that made the space he occupied a better place, we can endeavour to do likewise. May Fr. Obro rest in peace.

My pet name for Fr. Obro was Obroski. I find it difficult to cry because my moments with you were filled with cheerful thoughts. Rest on big brother till we meet again. It is well with your soul.

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