Yesterday, Christians in Nigeria joined their counterparts all over the world to celebrate Easter. The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the climax of a spiritual exercise which commenced on Ash Wednesday, with the marking of the foreheads with ashes. At the beginning of the exercise, Christians were reminded of their mortality and enjoined to seek repentance of their sins as every Lenten season is an opportunity to seek forgiveness and to strive to live holy lives.
The past 40 days, therefore, have been characterised by fasting, prayers, abstinence from sinful activities and alms giving. These pillars of Lent, as explained at the beginning on Ash Wednesday, are aimed at bringing the faithful closer to God and making the society a better place. In his Easter message, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah said there is an urgent need for Christians to rise to the challenge of renewing the face of the earth as bearers of the light of Christ. He urged the faithful to hold on firmly to higher values, remain hopeful and steadfast, and trust in God, adding, “the Risen Christ does not abandon us. God is near and His love never dies. The times are hard, but they will not last forever.
“Easter remind us that what we hold in trust for God is far higher than the porridge of political patronage. We must work harder to avoid compromises which define our boundaries of political loyalties and engagements. In the end, we have only our consciences to answer to. We have a lot of opportunities to effect change by offering a moral compass to guide and turn politics into a tool for service and the pursuit of the common good. We must apply the principles of the Gospel to shape our personal lives and that of the nation.” He said the resurrection is the basis for the divine command to take the Gospel to all the ends of the earth.
We congratulate Christians in Nigeria for successfully completing the spiritual exercise and on the celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the dead. We pray that God will answer their supplications during the Lenten period and that they reap the benefits that come with the exercise. Though prayers, fasting, abstinence from sin and caring for the needy are harped upon during the Lenten season, they are virtues that ordinarily should be part of the daily lives of Christians. We urge Christians, therefore to sustain the practice and the spirit with which they have lived these past 40 days. They should remember why they embarked on the spiritual journey in the first place as that would help them to sustain the virtues/practice.
We can never care enough for the needy. All around us, there are people in need of help in one way or another. The Nigeria case is worsened by crises in parts of the country. Christian faithful should continue to assist the poor and the spirit of brotherliness that was exhibited should be maintained. During the fasting period, some Christians broke their fast with Muslims around their neighbourhoods. That is the way adherents of different religions, especially the two major ones in Nigeria, should live at all times. People of different religions and ethnicity should be able to co-exist in peace and harmony.
Nigeria, at the moment is facing challenges, including robbery, banditry and kidnapping. This is therefore not the time to relent in prayers. They should remain prayerful and if possible intensify it so that as Easter marks the triumph of good over evil and the defeat of Satan, we may overcome the evils bedevilling us. Leaders should also take note of the teachings of Jesus, who humbled himself before his disciples and followers and paid the ultimate price of death on a cross, so that his followers may be saved. They should emulate his leadership qualities and understand that they are there to serve and not to be served.
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