Today, Christians in Nigeria and the world over celebrate Easter, marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, following His crucifixion on Good Friday. It also brings to an end the 40-day Lenten season. The celebration of Easter is heralded by the holy mass and services in churches across the country and the world.
The Lenten season, which commenced on February 22, with the Ash Wednesday, and lasted for a period of six weeks, was aimed at preparing Christians for this Day. During this period, Christians were expected to fast, abstain from all that is sinful, be more prayerful and to give alms to the needy living amongst them. It was a time for the faithful to re-examine their lives. Also, the last week of the Lenten season, termed the Holy Week, was used to re-emphasise the essence of the entire period and to remind the faithful of the reason why they embarked on the spiritual exercise in the first place.
In his Easter message to the faithful, the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and Achbishop of the Owerri Diocese, Lucius Ugorji, said, “Easter brings a healing message of hope to the disillusioned and broken-hearted.
He added that, “the event of the resurrection is a message that powerfully proclaims that life is stronger than death; that good is stronger than evil; that love is stronger than hate; and that truth is stronger than falsehood.”
Also in his message, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, urged the faithful to take a moment to reflect on the significance of Easter and what it implies for them and Nigerians as a whole.
He added, “Easter reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope. Just as Jesus overcame death and rose from the dead, we too can overcome all the things that weigh us down and reach for the heights. But we must continue to believe in ourselves and in our ability to make a positive change in our country.
“No doubt, from Boko Haram to banditry and kidnapping, to the threat of violence and terrorism, the stories are both heart-breaking and fear-inspiring just as the terrible events of Good Friday were over two thousand years ago. But Easter reminds us that even in the face of violence and persecution, love and compassion can triumph. With those same virtues, we can reclaim our country and make it a better place. But first, we must once again learn to stand together as a nation and genuinely work towards peace and unity. We must not allow ourselves to be divided by ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. Corruption continues to remain an obstacle to development in our country. Some of the factors that feed it are linked to ethnicity and religious bigotry. Easter teaches us that honesty and integrity are values that we must seek and uphold if we want to build a better Nigeria”.
The bishop warned the faithful on the dangers of returning to their old ways, saying that only by living changed and better lives will the Lenten season and Easter have a meaning in their lives. He said efforts should be made daily to live upright lives.
Felicitating with Christians, President Muhammadu Buhari noted that Easter is about renewed hope and a glorious future, and urged all Nigerians to continue to be confident and believe in the country for better season ahead.
We congratulate all Christians in Nigeria and the world over on the celebration of the 2023 Easter and pray that all the sacrifices made during the Lenten season yield positive fruits and that they reap the benefits of the season.
Indeed, Easter brings an end to a 40 day exercise, but the reason for the season must be sustained as that is the essence of a spiritual exercise such as this; to cause change. All the positive attitudes that were imbibed and practiced should be maintained and all the individual changes that faithful made to different aspects of their lives during the course of the Lenten season should be sustained, as that is one of the ways through which we can build a better society. The tenets of Lent which are prayers, fasting, abstinence and almsgiving are actually practices that should not only be done during a particular time or month; they should be inculcated into daily lives and practices.
Nigeria, more than ever is indeed in need of unity. There have been a lot of divisionary statements/ conversations among citizens, especially following the outcome of the elections. Interestingly, midway into the Lenten season, the Ramadan season commenced for the Muslims; also a period of fasting, prayers and almsgiving. We also saw adherents of both faiths break fast together in some instances. The significance of this should not be lost. The discrimination that exists among citizens should be jettisoned. This should help to foster unity and togetherness. Love for one another, irrespective of faith, should be entrenched and built upon so that a new society is birthed from this exercise. We must see one another as one humanity and nothing more.
Soon, a new set of leaders will be handed the mantle of leadership of this country; Easter teaches the role of leaders in the society as like Jesus Christ, the head of the church, sacrificed himself to save the faithful, it is expected that leaders are selfless. The welfare of citizens should be topmost on the minds of the leaders and that should drive them in all decisions that they take.
May the blessings of Easter remain with the faithful now and always. Daily Trust wishes all Christians a Happy Easter.