HOMILY AT THE FUNERAL MASS FOR REV. FR. MATTHEW ARIMORO, A PRIEST OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF OSOGBO, NIGERIAadmin
(WISDOM 4:7-15, PSALM 130, ROMANS 8:28-39, JOHN 14:1-6)
In the Gospel of St. John 11:25-26, Jesus said to Martha:
“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
In every situation and circumstance of life, our FAITH and the WORD of God teaches us to give Glory to God the Father; and so we all say: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…
Your Grace, Your Lordships, Mongnori, Rev. Fathers, Sisters and my dear people of God. I consider myself unworthy to stand here preaching this homily. It is the hardest assignment of my priestly ministry, to preach at the funeral of a 31 year old priest with whom I journeyed as a Formator in the Seminary of Ss. Perter and Paul, Bodija, Ibadan; Someone, I recommended for ordination to the Sacred Order; and Privileged to be among the Bishops and Priests, who laid hands on him 48 days ago (on the 3rd January, 2020) along with 5 other Deacons, whom we call the Priests of the Silver Jubilee Celebration of Osogbo Diocese. Rev. Fr. Matthew Oluwatosin ARIMORO is gone so quickly into the Eternal reward promised by Jesus Christ. To God be all glory forever and ever. SUN RE O Alufa Matthew Oluwatosin omo ARIMORO; Sun re laya Olugbala Re! Ara e maje kagbagbe pe Aye ….
I express our sincere and deepest condolences to the Chief Shepherd of Osogbo Diocese, Most Rev. John OYEJOLA. These past 12 days are hard times for you, my Lord Bishop and also hard for each one of us. We pray that the Lord Jesus will console you. As He consoles you, He will give you the spiritual strength to console the multitude of people he has placed under your pastoral care. Amen.
We also express our heartfelt condolences to the Presbyterate of Osogbo Diocese. St. Paul the Apostle reminds us in his Letter to the Romans 14:7-8: “None of us lives for himself only, and no dies for himself only. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” An injury to one priest is an injury to all priests; the pains of one is shared by many if not all; but the death of a Priest creates a vacuum in the Presbyterate that only the Grace of God can fill. Many of you Priests here are his contemporaries and friends. You had amazing memories and remarkable experiences with our brother, Fr. Matthew Oluwatosin ARIMORO. I pray for you all that you will be consoled like Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus that Jesus consoled. May the Lord Jesus console you all and grant you the strength and wisdom to console others. Amen.
To the Parents and Families of our brother and priest, Fr. OLUWATOSIN. Hmmm, I do not know what words of man could adequately console you on this great personal loss of a dear son. But I know that like Martha and Mary, only true Faith in Lord Jesus Christ, that you love and serve so much with passion and commitment, will give you consolation. For I am convince; “That neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creatures will be able to separate YOU/US from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8,38). I pray for ARIMORO family and your friends, that in the midst of this “cloud of sorrows” and “tears of loss” you will re-discover the “the light of Easter Joy” that no disaster of life will be able to take away from you. Amen. May our Lady of Sorrows console you. Amen.
For the members of the Cathedral Family of St. Benedict, Osogbo; as well as, the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul, Lagere, Ile-ife; and the People of God of St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Ilesa, the past 2 weeks have been days of Sad News, of Pains, of Hope rising but quickly lost and faded. As communities of Believers and Church, we are a people of faith and our faith gives us Hope; and Hope give us assurance that ‘we shall rise again’ For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). The letter of St. James 1,1-3, reminds us to treat moments of trail and tribulation like this as moments of ‘privileged victory’ through which God make us perfect.
For all you Catholics and Non-Catholics here gathered to bury a precious young, handsome, gentle, hardworking and talented Priest, Rev. Fr. Matthew Oluwatosin ARIMORO, there are a lot of questions in our minds and more questions in the air: Why should this happen to a priest of God? Why on a Sunday morning after proclaiming the Gospel at Mass, and after a sleepless night of assisting the Choir to praise God? Were they not coming from a Holy Marian Pilgrimage? Many of us have even dared to ask God questions like: Why did you choose to take not 1 but 6 Catholic Youth, and now the 7th, a Catholic Priest, not forgetting but mindful of another child of God, a Muslim Woman involved in the tragic accident. May their souls rest in perfect peace. Amen.
My dear people of God, Fr. Matthew ARIMORO, that we are burying today was just 31 years old. He was ordained a catholic Priest only 1 month and 6 days before his tragic Bus accident. He was a gifted instrumentalist, a singer and he composed a few songs. On the day of his priestly ordination in St. Leo’s Catholic Church, Oke Oni-tea, I saw a promising young priest, who will join his senior brother Priests, talented in music, to improve singing in our liturgy in Osogbo Diocese and in Yorubaland; but God destined him for something more perfect. On that day, God showed Rev. Fr. Matthew Oluwatosin ARIMORO the Heavenly Choir, much more beautiful and disciplined than the parish choirs or choirs anywhere on earth. Fr. Matthew ARIMORO registered in that heavenly Choir immediately, weeping and crying on his Ordination Day. Unwise as I was, I tried consoling him, but little did I know that he did not need my consolation. He needs my/our prayers so that he might spend the next 40 days of his ministerial priesthood preparing to join the Heavenly Choir. Rev. Fr. Oluwatosin ARIMORO did so in the company of some Youth, he is ordained to serve as Pastor.
Dear Children of God, on a day like this, we all need to pause and reflect deeply on the First Reading – from Book of Wisdom 4,7-15. That Ancient book contains deep spiritual insights, unblemished understanding of the theology of Christian death. It says: “The upright man even when he dies before his time shall be at rest”. Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we are pilgrims on earth! We are in a journey towards an end, and that end is “to rest in God Our Creator”! Many of us are occupied with the distractions in the world. Many of us have preoccupied ourselves with the vanities on the way. We have forgotten that we are on a journey, a journey that leads back to God, our resting place. Your Age, your Colour, your Time, your Profession, your Wealth, your Status is not the end; the only end is ‘to rest in God’. That is why, your time (be it morning, afternoon or evening) or your age (5, 10, 20, 25, 99) are not the most important things. What is more important for us as Christians is that we are on the right path to our Rest.
My/your Comfort and my/your Consolation in this Eucharist Assembly is that, our Brother, our son, our own Rev. Fr. Matthew Oluwatosin ARIMORO is resting in the Lord. He has gone to rest in his Creator. Also those 6 angels and the 7th one, are now resting in God, resting in the place where “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, neither crying, nor pain, for the former things are passed away”. To give us assurance, the Book of Wisdom 3:1-3 says: “the Souls of the just are in the hands of God, no torment shall touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they appear to be dead; their departure is held as a disaster and their going away from us a total destruction but they are at peace.”
Like many of you listening to this homily, I don’t know but I believe that God quickly removes his priest – Fr. Matthew ARIMORO – from the world so that “evil may not impair his understanding and treachery seduce his soul” (Wisdom 4:11-12). God was purifying Fr. Matthew’s imperfects within those 40 days of his priestly ministry. Yes, he may not have officiated Marriages, but God has used him to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Yes, he may not have been privileged to lay hands on another priest at ordination, but God has used him to celebrate the Holy Mass for the living and the dead. May God who called Rev. Fr. Matthew Oluwatosin ARIMORO to the Priestly ministry, and so soon called him again into heaven, forgive his human imperfections and bless him with heavenly peace. Amen.
Leaving aside the many comments posted on the social media since the demise of Fr. Matthew ARIMORO, some by his friends, classmates and contemporaries in the Seminary… The Word of God that I would like to share with you all is this: We must not let ‘careless emotions’ cloud our eyes like Mary of Magdala at the tomb of Lazarus that she almost failed to recognize the presence of Lord Jesus (John 20:11-28).
For those of you who were given the privilege of journeying with Fr. Matthew ARIMORO in his Seminary days, you will agree with me that Matthew ARIMORO was not a perfect seminarian. Nobody is Perfect but God! In fact, Fr. Matthew struggled with his Vocation. He spent about 13 years instead of the statutory 9 years for Seminary Formation. At a point in his journey, he had doubts about his priestly vocation. He left the seminary to obtain a Master’s Degree. Through the assistance of many priests, his family and friends, Oluwatosin re-discover his vocation and returned to the Seminary. Funny still, he was placed on a year probation for doubting his vocation. Yet, he took it calmly. He served and returned to the Seminary. As his Rector then, I always wondered why Matthew was persevering in all the troubles we gave him. He kept returning back to Seminary for Formation to the Priesthood. Now, I know better that Matthew was coming back to the seminary to become a Catholic Priest, he is destined to be; and by so doing, enter gloriously into heaven in 40 days.
My Son, Rev. Fr. Matthew Olawatosin ARIMORO, in life and in death you have taught me a lesson. You have taught me that I must never give up to distractions in my priestly vocation. You have taught me that no matter my failures, I must keep rising up and coming back to the Lord until He makes me perfect. Fr. Matthew ARIMORO in life and in death you have taught me the need for a personal conversion of heart. A true Christian is one who experiences conversion daily; one who comes back to the Lord always for forgiveness and direction. Fr. Matthew ARIMORO, you came back many times to the Lord until you had a share in His Ministerial Priesthood. Your 40 days’ ministry is symbolic. It represents Israelites’ 40 years in the wilderness in preparation for the Promised Land. It also stands for Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and prayers before the redemptive mission begins. Your 40 days’ priestly ministry in Osogbo Diocese prepares you for Heaven, where you have gone to prepare a place for us. YOUR ARE SIMPLY A ‘PROPHETIC MYSTERY’, Rest on in Peace!
My dear Brothers and Sisters, Jesus tells us in the Gospel, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1) In a time like this, we need to trust in the Lord. We need to abide in him. It is the quality of our relationship with the Lord Jesus that will guarantee us a place of rest when we die. Sudden death must not weaken our faith! Yes, it can shake it; but it must not lead us astray. The devil is a Lier from the beginning! If God is for us, who can be against us? So, let nothing separate us from the love of Christ: No anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword…for in all things, we are more than conquerors in the name of JESUS. (* we are more than conquerors*)
Let me end this reflection by pointing out 4 lessons we can learn from this funeral:
1) Life on earth is short. It is a pilgrimage, a journey to the place of everlasting Rest. Don’t miss it. Fr. Matthew ARIMORO and 6 youth went from the Marian Pilgrimage, Otan-Ayegbaju to the Pilgrimage of Eternity.
2) Fr. Matthew ARIMORO was a pastor in life and in death. He would not allow his flock to return to God alone. He accompanied them back to God. May his death teach all of us the value of Christian Companionship.
3) In life and death Fr. Matthew ARIMORO teaches us to serve the Lord with our time, our talent and our life. In his first and last Marian Pilgrimage on earth as Rev. Father, OLUWATOSIN gave himself up for service. He is now serving in the Heavenly liturgy, singing the great hymn with the Choirs of Angels. Are you willing to serve God with your time, talent and life?
4) Fr. Matthew ARIMIRO in his 40 days of priestly ministry left us with a memory of love, kindness and gentleness. What positive impact or impressions are you going to leave behind when death comes?
May the soul of Fr. Matthew Oluwatosin ARIMORO and the souls of the faithful departed rest in perfect peace. Amen.
Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina
Catholic Bishop of Ijebu-Ode