– Silence is the loudest sound
Paradoxes like this one make my day. They are a constant reminder of the world of contradictions that we live in. Contradiction only glossed over by the assumptions people choose to make and believe. I chose to examine these assumptions from an early age.
When I was young so much younger than today, I had questions. I can hear someone say, “Don’t we all?” And I agree with that. My questions were very weird. For example, I wondered about things like, “What does a cat call itself?” We call it a cat but what does it call itself? A sad and naïve question my cousin and I shared once was, “Why do people cry at funerals, I mean no one pinched them right? And indeed it was naïve. Because a year or so later my sister passed away. I did not cry but when they carried her coffin out of the hearse and past me into the house the tears that poured out my eyes and the sobs that convulsed my body could not be explained. Even today I don’t know what came over me, and I would cry in secret for 2 more years for her.
When I was in grade four I had a crush on a girl and I asked myself, “What is love?” I decided I would not have a girlfriend until I had defined this four letter word. I thought it would take me a few weeks to do so, 2 weeks to be precise. You may wonder how that turned out for me. Finally, after 8 years and many trials of definition I said to myself, “Maybe it takes two people to define it,” so I decided to find a partner to help with its definition.
Among the questions of little me was the usual one, “Where do babies come from?”, and the big one for religious children, “Where does God come from?” As you may guess, my parents had to deal with so many questions from me. I vaguely remember when I was in grade 6. My mom was telling me of the story she had heard. There was a mother who had given birth to a child in some Spanish place. She had named her son Jesus. My mother was horrified. I was not sure how to feel. So I asked around and some of my friends told me it was ok as long as they did not call the baby Jesus Christ. Then I asked an older person and he told me of someone who had actually named her son Jesus Christ. I was horrified. My world was getting complicated. I wondered why it was blasphemous to be named after such a great prophet. Many people were called Moses, Abraham, John and so on. What was wrong with being named Jesus? Someone told me that Jesus’s name was special, he was the son of God. It made sense. If you notice, I was tossed around from opinion to opinion.
The question that drove me mad involved Judas Iscariot. We were playing ball in the dusty gravel road by our house. We were playing the soccer game: Man int eh middle. The game involves one person fighting for the ball and others passing it around out of that person’s reach. We had been playing well, with a few people forming alliances to each other from going into the middle, namely Mark and Nathan. Then Nathan passed a short ball so Mark the receiver would not get it and hence would be the new one to mark for the ball. Mark felt betrayed and he called his betrayer, Nathan, the evil Judas Iscariot. “You sold me out” he said, “You are a snake, the biggest of them all, you are Judas Iscariot.” I was taken aback. I knew Judas Iscariot had betrayed Jesus and all, but he had repented and hung himself. To me he was a good person deep down. It made me wonder so much I missed a pass and I was marking for the ball until I gave up and left deep in thought. This incident really touched me to the core even though it hadn’t been the first time someone had been called names and the name was Judas Iscariot Being a sensitive and forgiving child, I had already given Judas Iscariot a pass into heaven. They had told me God forgives so Judas must have been forgiven. After all, without him where would our salvation be? You may wonder how a young me could have thought about all this, but I hope that now you can understand why I chose St. John’s College. I went home that day and asked my father, “What if Judas Iscariot had not betrayed Jesus? What if no one had betrayed Jesus? Then there wouldn’t be anyone to name as the biggest of snakes. What would have happened?” He shifted his gaze from the TV set and looked at me with an expression I could not place. I think he was wondering how to spin it. He sighed heavily and said, “I don’t know what would have happened. But I do know we cannot change the past and some things are better that they happened.”
Next Sunday, the preacher at church said, “There are many questions that we should not ask. Questions like, “where did God come from?” I smiled to myself, I had asked my dad that question a long time before. The preacher continued, “Questions like what would have happened if Judas Iscariot had not betrayed Jesus” Thats when I realized my dad had approached him with the question of questions. And somehow the preacher’s call for us not to ask these questions did not resonate. If the law of cause and effect were taken in the simplistic of ways. Jesus’s betrayal led to Jesus’ arrest and death. Remove the betrayal, there is no arrest and no death. But no death equals no resurrection the miracle of miracles and also no salvation. So, Judas did something that Christians should appreciate. One could say, we should also thank the Pharisees, and another could say the soldiers who crucified him could be also credited with good. Yet the question remains. “What if no one had betrayed Jesus? What if Judas Iscariot had to do a necessary evil to save people?
Armed with this Judas Iscariot question and in search of a definition of love, I started devouring my Bible. I read through it, repeated various books numerous times. I heard of the Apocrypha and I sought it out to find out its contents. I voraciously read books was grateful to stumble upon a Budhist text, and I even sought access to a Q’ran, now I own one. I heard of the Gospels by other Apostles and I just wanted to lay my hands on them. And then I bumped into the Gospel of Thomas. A Gospel that speaks to me of freedom from received opinions; liberation from authority; and opens doors to the possibility of initiation into something deeper than the visible acts of piety. And now you are reading this account wondering where else my journey my journey has taken me!
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Life is a misery to be endured until we die. Even those with terminal illnesses find times of respite and laugh and enjoy their lives. So too is mortality a terminal illness. We will all die, I for one am glad this is so. But before that day I will define myself, I will not go without giving everything I have got, and I will love with all my heart.
I am proud to be an Afropolitan; a world citizen of African descend. I am called Allen and I love writing, eating, and singing in the shower!
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