June 14, 2024
Abeokuta Diocese

2022 EASTER MESSAGE EASTER: OUR JOY AND HOPE OF NEW LIFE

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2022 EASTER MESSAGE EASTER: OUR JOY AND HOPE OF NEW LIFE

It is yet another celebration of the Lord’s paschal mystery as we commemorate the wonderful events of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These events unfold the mystery of salvation won for us through the love of the Father who gave His only begotten son to be the sacrifice of our redemption. In the last six weeks we have journeyed with the Lord through the various stages of the salvific acts that culminated in the eventual death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which brought about our redemption and reconnected us back to the Father after humanity lost fellowship with Him as a result of sin. Alleluia has become our song as we echo the hymn of praise to our God and our Lord Jesus Christ who came to our world so that we might have abundant life (Jn 10:10).

Indeed, His saving passion, death and resurrection is our assurance of victory, our joy and hope of new life.

Easter is our hope of new life and greater future as we experience through the power of the Holy Spirit, mercy and reconciliation with God. This experience reinvigorates us with joy, new life and new spirit. No doubt, Easter call us to reflect on our identity as people created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:27).

We are reminded of the prodigal love of Father who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but constantly calls us to repentance (Ez. 33:11). We equally experienced the humanity of Jesus as he endured the passion in obedience to the Father and out of his love for mankind. We should no longer remain the same after such prayerful encounter with the infinite love of God for us. The reality of the resurrection awakens us therefore to new life in Christ who rose from the grave with a mighty triumph over death. His glorious resurrection brings joy and hope of new life which must now be visible in our individual and our socio-political life.

The message at this Easter celebration is the practical demonstration of the mercy and victory of God which must be extended to all and sundry particularly in our nation Nigeria where tribal conflicts seem to be spreading like wild fire. More than ever, the resurrection of Jesus challenges us to value life in all its forms particularly as we grapple with the adverse effects of terrorism and banditry. We regret to note that life seems to count for nothing again in our country as human beings are now used as objects of financial exploitation via kidnapping, ritual killings, and the likes; a true demonstration of moral decadence in our society.

This New Life of Easter must also be visible in our Church and our world particularly as we have been challenged by the Holy Father Pope Francis on the Synod of Synodality encouraging us to embrace the spirit of communion, participation and mission. Seeing one another as brothers and sisters (fratteli tutti), as one united people with a common vision for our country is the way to go. Our individual stories and experience must be synchronized to form a harmonious voice of a country with cultural diversities yet united in a common purpose. We must be ready to dialogue and listen to the pain and misery of our people whose yearnings have been ignored for so long.

This New life must also be visible in our social/political life as we prepare for another general election with new attitude towards voting and electioneering. We must Jettison vote buying and for once stand up for the good of our nation. The reality of our nation demands urgent action if we shall have a nation to call our own. At this time in our nation’s political history, we do not need leaders that are vengeful or vying to fight on behalf of a party or tribe but leaders with the right intention to build communion and mend broken relationships. Nigeria has been at war for many years now from the onslaught of insurgents and bandits; our people are being slaughtered by the day, villages are attacked, houses set on fire, farmland taken over by the enemies of our nation (unknown gunmen), kidnapping has now become the order of the day with human beings as instruments of political agitations sometimes made to pay humongous amount of money as ransom that their immediate family members cannot even afford. We hear of bandits walking into communities raping and maiming Nigerians in their homes and farmland with many injured; rails and roads are no longer safe. How did we get here?

We cannot ignore these wounds we experience daily. We must let the best of our people with right intentions aspire to political office. Anyone vying for any political office must therefore understand that he or she has a great task in his or her hand. Times have changed now and things seem to be falling apart; the economy is biting hard on Nigerians as prices of commodities have increased exponentially and inflation rate is unimaginable. Even the gift of our natural resources is not showing in terms of the quality of life of our people neither can they boast of the dividends of democracy. All they are asking right now is for the government to protect their lives and property.

Nigerians can no longer sit on the fence anymore; it is time to participate by way of civil responsibility in the affairs of our country. We have complained for so long about the problems we face as a people, it is time to join hands together to fix them. We look forward to a greater Nigeria where there will be peace and progress as entrenched in our national anthem; one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity, that is our dream. We want peace and unity in Nigeria irrespective or tribe, tongue and religion. The principle of love and justice must therefore be embraced, promoted and defended.

Beloved people of God, as we celebrate this glorious season of Easter, let us be encouraged on our journey towards salvation, filled with hope for joy of the new life that Christ has won for us. We continually seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, St. Joseph, her spouse, and all the saints that God may intervene in our various situations of our country, Nigeria, and the world at large, so that His peace and joy may continue to radiate in our land. I invite you once more to be reassured of Christ’s victory over death, as expressed in the Christian hymn, composed by Michael Weisse:

Christ the Lord is risen again!

Christ hath broken every chain,

Hark, the angels shout for joy,

Singing evermore on high,​​Alleluya!

May God bless our nation and people and grant us peace and unity, Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Happy Easter! God bless you all.

Most Rev. Dr. Peter Odetoyinbo

Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta​

16th April, 2022

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