July 14, 2024
News Nigeria




“Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let the earth receive her king and let every heart prepare Him room”. With these words of joy, I wish you dear people of God, a merry Christmas and happy New Year in advance. We rejoice in God our strength for the grace to witness another Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; Emmanuel – God with us. I bring you this message of joy and hope with the assurance of faith in God who constantly draws us nearer to the reality of His love for us. This Christmas once again, reminds us of God’s love by choosing us as His children and the heirs of salvation despite our unworthiness. (1 Jn. 3:1, Heb. 1:14).

Christmas reminds us that God does not give up on any of us. Hence, we cannot give up on ourselves and our country. God is always in search of us when we stray and never relents until we return to His loving embrace. We must not give up on the quest to overcome the forces of darkness in the world as the Church calls us to reflect during this season of Christmas. However, we have to straighten the rough paths of our lives and prepare a room for Jesus in our hearts if we shall welcome Him with joy when He comes. This is what the celebration of Christmas calls to do; we must never give up on our efforts to reforming ourselves and collectively rebuilding our country. God always supplies the grace and His grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:9).

We must remain hopeful for our country. In the midst of the doubts, hunger, danger, anger, pain and hopelessness that stir us in the face particularly with the conducts of our leaders and fellow compatriots; we must remain resolute and hopeful in the vision of a new Nigeria. We daily witness with concerns the exodus of Nigerians particularly young people to other nations leading to brain drain and loss of capable hands that would have added value to our common effort of rebuilding Nigeria. Such embers of desperation and hopelessness, should not be allowed to flourish any longer. As people of hope, we believe that Nigeria will rise again and the glory of the Lord shall shine upon her; and many who have been displaced due to problems besieging this country will once more return to their homeland. (Is. 40:1-2).

A deeper reflection on the celebration of Christmas shows how God never gives up on humanity. God continues to send prophets and priests to His people in order to communicate His infinite love to us and the need to reconsider our sinful ways in order to embrace righteousness and peace. Since humanity lost God’s fellowship as a result of sin, God continued to provide avenues for restoration and reconciliation. The perfect demonstration of this love was the mystery of the Incarnation with the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ that brought joy and peace to the world. The purpose of His appearing was to undo the works of the devil. (1 Jn. 3:8).

Christ came to give us abundant life and hope which must be reawakened in us as we celebrate. Some of the developed nations to which some Nigerians have emigrated, had their dark moments in history. They went through their own storms but kept hope alive. Where is the hope for our nation? We must remind one another that God loves us in Nigeria and learn to love one another. We cannot continue to appreciate other nations and work daily to destroy our own. Engaging in acts that bring collective shame to the name of our country and cause havoc to lives and properties of fellow Nigerians is inimical to our hope for a better Nigeria.

The present administration has presented to us the mantra of ‘renewed hope’. Let them also walk the talk but matching their utterances with actions and commitment to ending the present economic hardships that plague our country. Living in affluence while citizens wallow in abject poverty is not in line with the ‘renewed hope’ agenda. We admonish Politicians and those in positions of power to learn to make sacrifices for the citizenry as well. Extravagant lifestyles and affluence while encouraging citizens to endure is a total betrayal of the ‘renewed hope’ vision. Leaders at the various arms of government are therefore challenged to act in such a way as to rebuild trust and confidence in the people. The executive must engage in policies and programmes that will better the lives of Nigerians, the legislature must pass bills that are pro-life and reflect proper representation of the will of Nigerians while the Judiciary must be the last hope of the common man not only in judgement but also in justice. Unfortunately, the reality in our country speaks otherwise. This shows that we are all called to do more than we have done in the past to build a collective trust in our country. We cannot allow a few people to hijack our commonwealth and continue to advance their cause while the rest of us resign to fate and hopelessness. We are not Nigerians by accident but by the will of God who created us wonderfully and beautifully with our colour, tribes and tongue.

We cannot devalue ourselves and nation and expects others to celebrate us. We must be intentional about rebuilding and uplifting the glory of Nigeria by desisting from acts of terrorism, banditry, oil theft, arm robbery, kidnapping, electoral malpractices, maiming and killing one another; acts like these destroy our commonwealth and the integrity of our country both locally and internationally. We must enthrone the virtues of love, joy, peace, unity and humility before God. This is what Christmas must instill in us. Christ the Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace has been born to us; let us open our hearts to the love of the Father through the gift of His Son to us by doing away with the works of darkness.

The season of Christmas affords us the opportunity to celebrate the love of God with one another as one family united in a common vision for our common good. This love must be shared with our brothers and sisters particularly those that find it difficult to celebrate due to the present economic hardship. The spirit of love that God has brought our way by the birth of Jesus Christ should spur us to share with one another the joy of Christmas. I exhort and enjoin all who have, to share their gifts with the poor and less privileged around them. There is hunger in the city and famine on the plain, so let us call on Christ to come quickly as we celebrate, to fill our hearts with the warmth of His love, mercy and kindness. May the joy of the Lord continue to be our strength. Amen. I wish you all, Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2024.

Most Rev. Dr. Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta

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