Callistus Kwesi Bismarck’s Funeral Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, Tema, on 29th June, 2019
I met Lawyer Callistus Kwesi Bismarck for the first time in 1992 when the late Most Rev. Dominic K. Andoh, appointed me to Our Lady of Mercy Parish which then had St. Joseph the Worker Church as one of its outstations.
For about ten years, I worked with Lawyer Bismarck at various levels of Church life and mission. From my encounter with Mr. Bismarck in those years and thereafter, I can say that today, we have gathered for the funeral of an exemplary Christian, a true disciple and passionate messenger of Christ, a most beloved son, a most beloved husband, a most dear father, a true friend, a compassionate and selfless man, a man of integrity and an intelligent lawyer. Simply put, he was an inspiring man. He inspired not only the youth of St. Joseph the Worker Church and of other communities but me as well.
No wonder, his funeral takes places on a special feast of the universal Catholic Church – the solemn feast of the Saints Peter and Paul. Mr. Bismarck believed the leadership role Christ entrusted to St. Peter, while he had he passion of St. Paul to bring the good news of Christ to others. May St. Peter open the gates of heaven for Mr. Bismarck.
From human reckoning Mr. Bismarck has departed too early, leaving behind his mother, his wife and his two children who are yet to complete their education, as well as other family members. But, as we often say, God’s ways are not our ways.
Moreover, the first reading assures us that:
… the souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace. …
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and God’s care is with the elect (Wis. 3:1-9).
Indeed, God’s ways are not our ways. God decided when he was to be born: 2nd October, 1962. And the 2nd of October is a very important date on the Catholic calendar. It is feast of Guardian angels. While we are each assigned a guardian angel (Matt. 18:10), Kwesi entered this world in the company of Guardian angels. He was a special soul.
This made me probe further into his date of birth. This investigation took me to the Book of Psalms. Now, since he was born on 2nd October, 1962, I decided to look at what Psalms 2, 10 and 62 have concerning Lawyer Bismarck’s life.
“I will announce,” … “what the Lord has declared.
He said to me: ‘You are my son;
today I have become your father” (Psalm 2:7).
Thus, none of us entered this world on his/her own volition. It was God who gave us life through our parents. We entered this world at the time we did by God’s will; we came into this world as His sons and daughters. This Kwesi understood so well! No wonder Kwesi served the Lord with all his mind, heart, soul and strength and he was passionate about getting the youth of the Church and others to likewise serve the Lord.
OCTOBER IS THE 10TH MONTH, SO I CHECKED PSALM 10
You will listen, O Lord, to the prayers of the lowly;
you will give them courage.
18 You will hear the cries of the oppressed and the orphans;
you will judge in their favor….
If God listens to the prayers of the humble, oppressed and orphans, and He judges in their favor, then Kwesi would become an instrument (i.e. a lawyer) of God’s favorable judgment for those who cannot afford the usual legal fees. He offered his legal services to such needy persons pro bono.
By this Kwesi reminds us that the marginalized are specially loved by God, so we should champion their cause.
BORN IN THE YEAR, ’62, SO I CHECKED WHAT PSALM 62 HAS FOR US:
This Psalm is entitled: “Confidence in God’s Protection”.
I wait patiently for God to save me;
I depend on him alone.
2 He alone protects and saves me;
he is my defender,
and I shall never be defeated. …
7 My salvation and honor depend on God;
he is my strong protector;
he is my shelter.
8 Trust in God at all times, my people.
Tell him all your troubles,
for he is our refuge.
Beloved, Kwesi teaches us to have confidence in God’s protection and salvation.
Now, having considered what messages we could gather from the Psalms in reference to the date of birth of Kwesi, let us now look at what messages we can take with regard to his date of departure from this life: 12th February, 2019. Hence, let’s consider some verses from Psalms 12, 2 and 19.
The promises of the Lord can be trusted;
they are as genuine as silver
refined seven times in the furnace.
Assured of the unfailing promises of the Lord, Kwesi’s faith in the Lord was unwavering even in the very trying moments of sickness. He kept his faith till his last breath, because he believed in the Lord’s promise of everlasting life in heaven. Indeed, long before Kwesi became a lawyer, he believed that his Guardian angel is the bailiff God would one today send to summon him from this life. And if your own guardian (e.g. your father) is the bailiff then that is the first step towards a judgment in your favor.
Furthermore, and most importantly, Kwesi believed that Jesus Christ, the unique Supreme Judge of the spiritual realm, is also the divine Lawyer of those who believe in Him as the Savior of the world. And where the judge is one’s lawyer, one can be assured of a favorable judgment. Moreover, Christ’s advocacy as our Lawyer is not only pro bono, for He goes the extra mile of paying the debt/charges we cannot pay; and He does so not with cash or any physical thing but with His very life. Beloved, as we pray to God to grant Kwesi eternal life, let us learn to be steadfast in our faith for the promises of the Lord will never fail.
FEBRUARY IS THE SECOND MONTH, SO WE GO BACK TO PSALM 2
Serve the Lord with fear;
tremble and bow down to him
This explains Kwesi’s dedicated service to the Lord and His Church. This is an example for us all.
LAWYER BISMARCK DIED THIS YEAR, 2019, SO THE LAST PSALM WE WISH TO CONSIDER IS PSALM 19:
Beloved, before we look at Psalm 19, let me recap lessons from Kwesi’s life mentioned above since I wish to use Psalm 19 as my conclusion.
Kwesi’s life teaches us:
- That we entered this world as God’s sons and daughters (Psalm 2).
- That the marginalized are specially loved by God, so we should champion their cause (Psalm 10).
- To have confidence in God’s protection and salvation (Psalm 62).
- That the promises of the Lordcan be trusted (Psalm 12).
- Serve the Lordwith dedication and sincerity (Psalm 2).
Now may I conclude with Psalm 19. With this Psalm, Kwesi teaches us that whereas we should abide by the civil law, there is a superior law which we must always abide by, because the rewards therein are immeasurable:
7 The law of the Lord is perfect;
it gives new strength.
The commands of the Lord are trustworthy,
giving wisdom to those who lack it.
8 The laws of the Lord are right,
and those who obey them are happy.
The commands of the Lord are just
and give understanding to the mind.
9 Reverence for the Lord is good;
it will continue forever.
The judgments of the Lord are just;
they are always fair.
10 They are more desirable than the finest gold;
they are sweeter than the purest honey.
11 They give knowledge to me, your servant;
I am rewarded for obeying them.
12 None of us can see our own errors;
deliver me, Lord, from hidden faults!
13 Keep me safe, also, from willful sins;
don’t let them rule over me.
Then I shall be perfect
and free from the evil of sin.
14 May my words and my thoughts be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my refuge and my redeemer!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis