2022 ADVENT MESSAGE OF MOST REV. GABRIEL ‘LEKE ABEGUNRIN, ARCHBISHOP OF THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF IBADAN
Peace be with you all.
Today, we are starting a new liturgical season – Year C. Last Sunday, we concluded the liturgical Year A with the celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King where Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament was paraded all over the streets of the Archdiocese by faithful while praying for our dear country Nigeria and the world at large. No doubt, Christ went with us on the journey, hence, it was a big spiritual pilgrimage for all who partook in the Eucharistic Procession. Now that we are entering another liturgical season today, which begins with the Advent Season, that is the Coming of Christ – it is worthy that we prepare for the Coming of Christ adequately.
Our world is a world of trouble and a world that is torn apart. Notwithstanding of the above, we are celebrating Christ. Christ’s coming is not for festivities, rather, He is coming to suffer and to take part in our sufferings so that He may take them away. It is the plan of God the Father that Christ His Son should come into the world. Thus, Christ came into the world as a baby; He later grew up to maturity; He went through life, and crowned His Coming with His Kingship.
The Coming of Christ this year is not different from His Coming in previous years. However, the pertinent question is – How do we prepare for Him this year? This question is relevant if taking into account: the preparations for elections in our country Nigeria next year; all the troubles in the land; the flood that is ravaging many parts of the country and the world; wars in some places, kidnappings, killings and stealing in many parts of our nation and the world – Yet, we have to prepare for the Coming of Christ.
We are to prepare for Christ’s Coming because He is not to be blamed for what is happening to us. He has done His part but we are not learning enough from Him. We find it difficult to learn from Him and obey His words.
St. Paul admonishes in Ephesians 5:16 that this may be a wicked age, but your life should redeem it because Christ in Matthew 5, 13 & 14 says you are salt of the earth and the light of the world. If you and I are to redeem the world, we must imitate Christ in His Coming, which means we must be able to carry our crosses along from the beginning; we must be able to know where to go and what to do. In other words, we should not only choose the soft parts of enjoyment and festivities, but sometimes we must be able to accommodate suffering or hardship because that is the way of the Lord.
Really we are expecting Christ, so let us level those areas that are rough in our lives; those areas in our relationship with others that are not smooth; those areas in our prayer life that are not smooth as well as those areas in our friendship with our neighbours that are rough, so that when Christ comes, He will find us worthy to accept Him.
Our readiness is of many parts – we must be ready in prayer; we must be ready in unity; we must be ready in charity; we must be ready to work hard and we must be ready to help each other in whatever way we could. Therefore, our readiness is really in our hands. Of course, we cannot delay Christ’s Coming or deceive Christ. Our successes are dependent on obeying Him and doing His will. It is only when we do these that we are actually ready to receive Him.
I pray that as we go through this season of Advent, we shall arrive at Christmas with love, peace, unity, progress, support for the weak, and with open hands to give to the poor as well as where possible we lift people out of their sufferings.
May Christ, the King of kings, the Author of life and the Man of peace bring us joy, peace and unity, and encourage us in our different times to meet Him as expected – who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.
God bless you all.