Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Five years ago ... right now

It was exactly five years ago, almost to the minute, that Fr. John Kaiser was murdered in Kenya. My mother, John's sister, called me a few minutes ago, noting the time. Kenya is about eight hours ahead, and it is believed he was murdered around 4:30 a.m.

It's been five years of torment, five years of struggle, five years of hope that the truth would finally be told.

Following, I have printed a sermon by John's bishop, Bishop Cornelius, presented at the fourth anniversary service.

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today I speak to you as one who has lived through experiences best forgotten but long remembered. In the old prayers on "The Way of the Cross" are the Words ' The Crowds have left the heights of Calvary and none remain except the holy women and beloved disciple'.

These words echo through my mind today as we pray for John Kaiser and look at his fears and dreams.

The grass now covers his final Resting place and the Ravages of time have obliterated the roadside scars of his deathsite. They say age causes the sharpness of the mind to be dulled but they do not know that our minds will remain focused on that terrible event of August four years until we can say 'Now John you are dismissed. Take your Rest.'

My dear people of God, the life and death of John Kaiser had its effect on all of us.

Some remember his kindness, his care, his faith, his simplicity. Some remember his stubborn manner, his relentless pursuit of the truth, his dedication to the voiceless oppressed.

Some remember him with exasperation as somebody who refused to lie down, stay silent or deviate from his God given mission to serve the poor on whom have been imposed hell in this life.

Some are afraid of the truth and watch their steps during the day and the shadows at night. Some want to forget the injustices they were responsible for and wish they had never heard of Fr. John Kaiser.

And some are inspired by his life and work when no light appears at the end of the tunnel of life.

His death has touched us like the other martyrs of old.

Jesus Christ came to change the world - to speak for the poor, the down trodden and oppressed. It would be senseless person who would say that John Kaiser did not follow his example. So, let us not tire but continue to be inspired by his life.

If John Kaiser was alive today. I wonder what he would say.

To the leaders of the Church he would say - Do not tire, Do not be afraid. The gates of Hell will never prevail against us. Lead by example and take heart.

To the civil leaders of all political persuasions he would say; I hardly see the promised Justice. Those who were victims of the clashes still live in almost hopeless conditions. I still hear of dubious deals. I still see the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I still hear false and empty words. Why do many of our own Kenyan people live as refugees in their own country. Why have the land Report and Akiwumi report on the clashes not been published?

Why must politicians say one thing and do another? Fr. Kaiser would say; Do not let us drift back to the olden days of police harassment at the investigation of absent leaders. Fr. Kaiser would say let your leaders speak with the crystal clear language of the naked truth. He would say let my people, your brothers and sisters have their land back.

To those who are searching for the truth, he would say Justice delayed is justice denied. So let the inquest proceed with all exhibits, all photographs available to it. Let those especially our Attorney General take the matter seriously and quickly help so that justice can be done.

To the Christian family, Fr. Kaiser would say 'Never lose hope, what is hidden in secret will be proclaimed from the housetops. Love one another. No tribalism. You are all children of God and, so he would say be an example, let your light shine before all people.

Finally Fr. Kaiser would be concerned about the fate of women where cases of rape, attempted rape and domestic violence increase, as each day passes. He would say enough is enough. Let the law take its course and deal with the matter. He would say let the victim not be the culprit.

Finally as one who also witnessed the awful tragedy of the clashes. I appeal to the government not to stand idly by while injustice continues. Now is the time for action.

We remember Fr. Kaiser. As Church leaders we have never accepted that he committed suicide. Why drive 100 Kms in the dead of night to kill yourself on a lonely road. Let the truth be known and this truth will set us free.

Fr. Kaiser would say 'Let my people free, free from the slavery of poverty, free from oppression, free from exploitation and free from double speak.

Fr. Kaiser lived and died a Christian. One who loves God and his neighbour. He lived this truth even unto death. He has given us an example.


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