Christians across Nigeria and the world over, yesterday, celebrated Easter to mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter is also the climax of a 40-day period of Lent, which began on Ash Wednesday.
At the beginning of the spiritual exercise, which commenced about six weeks ago, Christians through the ashes on their foreheads were reminded of their mortality and the need to live right at all times. They were also called to repent as the Lenten period is a unique time to seek forgiveness of sins. The period was marked by fasting, abstinence, praying and almsgiving. These tenets of Lent are expected to bring the faithful closer to God while causing change in their lives and by extension the larger society.
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In his Easter message, a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, Fr. Anthony A. Olaniyan, SMA, said, ‘‘In 1st Corinthians 15:14, St. Paul tells us that ‘if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith’. The resurrection is the tripod upon which our Christian faith stands. Easter is a feast of encouragement and hope in this world of pain.” He added that “We must keep hope alive. We must rise from our ash heap to a more glorious and dignified life. Easter is a call for us to be a people of the resurrection. We are called to exude joy.”
In Psalm 118:24, the psalmist says, ‘This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad’. We are admonished to be a people of peace. We are challenged to be transparent people who use leadership as an opportunity to serve and not oppress’’.
We congratulate all Christians for the successful completion of the 2021 Lenten season. We pray that God will answer all their prayers and may they reap the benefits that come with the season.
As a country with peculiar problems, we pray that the acts of forgiveness and communal living which were exhibited during the Lenten season, where people of other faiths joined their Christian friends to break the fast, continue.
We urge all Christians to remember why they embarked on the journey of self-denial in the last 40 days and in view of that continue with the good acts that characterized the season. During the period, fasting, praying and almsgiving were harped upon and indeed practised. These very good tenets should not be discarded now that the season is over. These are attributes that should be part of daily lives. The faithful should imbibe them and use them to cause a change in society. The fact that Nigeria has many people in need of assistance needs no emphasising. We hope that more people will continue to give alms so that more people can be taken off the streets and provided for.
During the Lenten season, the faithful were urged to stay away from anything sinful which included any form of crime. We pray that that continues so that through their attitudes, more people who are into crime, which is the biggest problem in Nigeria, may have a change of heart and turn to God.
Nigeria, now more than ever, needs prayers, therefore the faithful should not relent in prayers. They should continue to pray for one another, the country and its leaders, so that as Easter marks the triumph of good over evil, the nation may overcome all its problems, especially insecurity which has led to several deaths and crippled economic life in several communities.
We urge our leaders to emulate Jesus Christ, who is at the centre of the Easter celebration. As a leader, he humbled himself before his followers and even paid the supreme price of death on the cross for those followers to be saved. The nation’s leaders should learn to be humble and to know that they were chosen to serve and not to be served.