By PJ Usanga

Gathering to discuss and reflect on the theme, ‘War and Peace in the Bible’, the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) begins its 16th annual conference at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Abuja, today Wednesday, November 15, 2023.

Beginning with an Opening Mass at the St. Gabriel Chaplaincy, CSN, the Chief Celebrant and Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren, at the beginning of the Mass, prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all their deliberations throughout the conference so that at the end, they may experience the true conversion and witnessing in the world.

The Catholic Bishop of Lokoja Diocese, Most Rev. Martin Olorunmolu, in his homily at the Mass, thanked God for bringing all the participants safely down to Abuja for the conference and equally commended Abuja Archdiocese for hosting them.

Reflecting on the reading of the Mass from the book of wisdom, “Listen, O kings, and understand; learn, O judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations,” Bishop Olorunmolu admonished the Bible scholars, that as people who have committed their lives to the word of God, that God is asking them to listen to his wisdom and learn to appreciate his word, so that they can perfectly pass on his message to the people.

Describing the theme as very timely, topical and relevant in today’s world, Bishop Olorunmolu explained that owing to the various wars and chaos in the world today, like the Israeli-Hamas war and the Russian-Ukraine crisis, that as Bible experts, it becomes necessary for them to listen again, reflect and pray for God to grant them a better understanding of His word.

“These two words: war and peace are very common in the bible, and despite the various warnings about war in the scriptures, the world is still really ravaged by it. We are here to reflect and pray for God to help us understand better . For God to give us a fresh understanding. People are suffering and dying. Let us as Bible scholars and experts, listen again, so as to be fully refreshed to work for peace in a troubled world. To seek for peace, no matter how many destructions the various wars in the world have brought upon us.”

The CABAN President, Sr. Prof. Theresa Okure, (SHCJ), in her welcome remark, expressed gratitude to God for safely bringing all participants to the conference, despite all the uncertainties that surrounded the planning process. She intimated all that CABAN is all about the mission and all about God and that they are working in Synodality.

The CABAN president, also charged the members, that as Biblical scholars, they need to listen carefully to what God is saying and open up themselves for him to use as instruments for his spiritual and social transformation of the world.

The CABAN conference which is hosted by the Archdiocese of Abuja for the 4th time, officially commenced with the opening Mass, and will continue with the opening ceremony at the Resource Center of the CSN alongside other activities and Paper presentations.