PRE-BURIAL MASS OF SIR ERNEST AMOAKO-ARHEN, KSGG, AT THE HOLY SPIRIT CATHEDRAL, ACCRA ON FRIDAY 2ND JUNE, 2023
READINGS: 1 THESS. 4;13-18 & MATT. 25:14-30
HOMILY BY BISHOP JOHN K. LOUIS
In the professional career of Sir Ernest Amoako-Arhen, either in teaching or practice, one discipline which stood out was Accounting. Hence, we have chosen a gospel reading in which three (3) servants were expected to account for the various talents which their master entrusted to them (cf. Matt. 25:14-30).
A talent, in the gospel parable, was an amount of money. It was the annual gross salary of a servant in those days. So, even the servant who was given one talent had enough for investment. Similarly, although some are more talented than others, God has adequately endowed all human beings.
Now, considering the life of Sir Amoako-Arhen in the light of this parable, we are reminded that:
- God has entrusted to each of us some talents. In our case, these are blessings, not gross salaries.
- The talents or blessings are God’s investments. So, we will have to render accounts at the end of our lives.
TALENTS OF SIR AMOAKO-ARHEN
God blessed Sir Amoako-Arhen with several talents but I wish to consider only five (5) of them (as that was the highest number of talents mentioned in the parable).
Sir Amoako-Arhen was blessed with:
- Catholic faith
- Marriage and family life
- Ability to contribute to society
This is the one talent which God invests in all of us. God invests in each human being a span of life. This could be 1± hour, 1± day, 1± week, 1± year, 10± years, 50± years, 60± years, 70± years, 80± years, 90± years, 100± years, 120± years, etc. Now, the person who has only 10 years is not expected to account for 100 years, but for only the 10 years. Similarly, the one who has 100 years is expected to account for all those years. So, as we pray for long life, let us know that we will have to account for every minute, every hour and every day of all those years.
Sir Amoako-Arhen attained 68 years, 3 months, 18 days; and this is the lifespan he has to account for. Let us pray that the merciful God will credit him with all the many good things he did and overlook all the shortfalls in his 68+ years.
- CATHOLIC FAITH
The second talent which God blessed Sir Amoako-Arhen with is the Catholic faith. Not all human beings receive this talent. Sir Amoako-Arhen received the blessing of the Catholic faith through his family. Thus, he was baptized as an infant in 1955.
Remember that faith as a talent is God’s investment in us and so he expects returns/interests from us. To yield the returns, we have to work with our faith. The Letter of St. James is instructive in this regard: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? … faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14,17-18). So, as early as the age of 8 years, Sir Amoako-Arhen would begin to put his faith into action by reading in the Catholic Church at Tarkwa. Soon at that tender age, he would join the choir. He would also master his catechism lessons for First Holy Communion, and by the age of 10 years and 2 months, he would be confirmed.
Furthermore, as a youth and later as an adult, he would develop his love for and knowledge of the Catholic faith through reading and retreats. Later, together with his wife, Mrs. Vivian Amoako-Arhen, he would receive Holy Matrimony here at the Holy Spirit Cathedral. Subsequently, for a period of 30 years, his presence would be felt in the Cathedral Parish as he committed himself to the following roles, among others:
- Chairman, Millennium House Fundraising Committee, 2000-2001
- PPC/Parish Youth Coordinator, 2001-2002
- PPC/Parish PRO, 2003-2004
- Chairman, Cathedral Golden Jubilee Committee, 2004-2005
- Vice PPC Chairman, 2005-2008 (when I was the Associate and later the substantive Cathedral Administrator)
- PPC Chairman, 2009-2012 (I was the Cathedral Administrator)
- Immediate Past PPC Chairman, 2013 -2014
He also distinguished himself as a Knight of Marshall, becoming its substantive Supreme Knights in 2015. Then in 2019, he became the Vice President of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights. Ultimately, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, would appreciate his extraordinary services to the Church and society in 2022 by awarding him with the Order of Knights of (Pope) St. Gregory the Great (KSGG).
Beloved, how are we also managing God’s investments of the Catholic or Christian faith in our lives? Are we demonstrating our faith through good works?
The third talent under consideration is one’s profession. Once again as an investment in us, God will assess the returns we make on our profession. Sir Amoako-Arhen began his career as a teacher. He taught Accounting, Economics and related courses at:
- Ghana Secondary School, Tamale
- Kumasi High Secondary School
- Some schools in Nigeria
Later, he would work as an Accountant, Auditor, Financial Controller etc. at various firms, rising to the top. Lastly, from 2010 to 2023, he was the Financial Advisor and Accountant of Asmona Construction company Ltd.
Knowing that he would account not only to his human bosses but to God Himself, Sir Amoako-Arhen maintained an extraordinary work ethic. He was hardworking, thorough and meticulous with incredible core values of integrity and commitment (cf. his biography). Unfortunately, today, many of us work as if we will be assessed by only our human bosses. Worse still, some people work knowing that there will be no serious human assessment due to laxity and corruption in our systems.
On the contrary, Sir Amoako-Arhen reminds us that if our human bosses will neglect to assess us, God will certainly audit our life-work one day. Let us, therefore, work knowing that no hardwork nor laziness, no honesty nor corruption, no diligence nor negligence, no integrity nor conflict-of-interest escapes the CCTV camera of God.
- MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE
Marriage and family life is the fourth talent we wish to consider. If you are married, God will assess how you relate with your spouse, children and other family members? How responsible are you?
The biography of Sir Amoako-Arhen and several tributes attest to the fact that he managed very well God’s investment in him of marriage and family life:
- To his wife, he was more than a beloved and good husband
- To his children, he was the best dad in many respects, including the transmission of the Catholic faith
- To his nephews and nieces, he was not just a good uncle, but a good father, provider and mentor
- To his siblings, though most of them are older than him, he assumed the role of a beloved father/family head, etc.
To those who are married, then: are you managing your marriage as an investment on which God expects returns? If God has blessed you with children, nephews, nieces, siblings, aging parents etc., how do you relate with them? How do you support them?
- ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY
The fifth and last talent we wish to consider is the ability God gives us to contribute to society. This includes helping others who are not our family members; any contribution which makes our society a better place; etc. Sir Amoako-Arhen was a kind person. He helped others with his cash, time, ideas and skills. In his hometown, for instance, he instituted the Kwanowaa Education Fund to help poor but brilliant students. How, then, are we contributing to make society a better place?
Finally, let us pray that as God audits Sir Amoako-Arhen’s life of 68+ years, his Catholic faith, his professional life, his marriage and family life, as well as his contribution to society, He will, by His eyes of mercy, arrive at a balance sheet in which his spiritual assets far outweigh his spiritual liabilities.