The Week of weeks | Dailytrust

The Week of weeks

Today we begin the sacred week of the Lord’s Passion, death and resurrection. For my non Catholic readers. This Sunday is referred to as Palm Sunday. A  we recall Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem that will lead to his eventual death, and the entire week is referred to as a Holy Week, because of the re-enactment of the Lord’s Supper, where Jesus gave us his Most Precious Body and Blood as an everlasting Covenant; thereby instituting the Sacrament of Holy Orders (Priesthood) and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. On Good Friday we will recall his supreme sacrifice on the cross, his eventual death and the salvation he brought for humanity. By Holy Saturday, we will still be around the grave with tears and sadness in our hearts.

Holy Week, in the Christian church, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, is observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. In the Greek and Roman liturgical books, it is called the Great Week because great deeds were done by God during this week. The name Holy Week was used in the 4th century by St Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, and St Epiphanius of Constantia. Originally, only Good Friday and Holy Saturday were observed as holy days. Later, Wednesday was added as the day on which Judas plotted to betray Jesus, and by the beginning of the 3rd century the other days of the week had been added. The pre-Nicene church concentrated its attention on the celebration of one great feast, the Christian Passover, on the night between Saturday and Easter Sunday morning. By the later 4th century the practice had begun of separating the various events and commemorating them on the days of the week on which they occurred: Judas’s betrayal and the institution of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday; the Passion and death of Christ on Good Friday; his burial on Holy Saturday; and his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The intense human drama of this week leaves us all with great lessons. There are a lot that we can draw from the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. How the people welcomed him, spread their clothing on the ground for Jesus to walk on, and how the same people turned against him. For millennia now, the world has been grabbling with such a human change of mode and attitude towards an institution or persons they once revered. We can ‘understand’ when such a change happens in the life of brutal and oppressive leaders or systems. But what could have caused that change in the situation of Jesus? The only plausible reason is what we find in (Proverbs 1:11). If they say, “Come with us, let’s lay in wait for blood; let’s lurk secretly for the innocent without cause. For they don’t sleep, unless they do evil. Their sleep is taken away, unless they make someone fall. (Proverbs 4:1). I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.” (Jeremiah 11: 19).

In this week also the personality of Judas Iscariot will be analyzed, and talked about a great deal. The role he played in the betrayal of Jesus, will be a much talked about topic. Judas will be dramatized in history in different ways. But one of the most ‘cherished’ history to philosophise about will be likened to the ‘wonderful’ story of Brutus. A lesson to show how enemies from within always constitute a greater threat to our collective humanity and nationhood, especially in the case of our dear country Nigeria. On the 20th of September the Daily Trust Newspaper published an article I wrote titled: The Nicolaitans In Our Systems:  “A group of senators saw Caesar as a tyrant. His friends Brutus and Cassius, decided to plot his death on March 15, 44 BC. Brutus, Cassius and other angry senators, stabbed Caesar to death in the Forum. Brutus the man who stabbed Caesar last apparently was his confidant and his most trusted friend. I have always used this example to analyze the enemies from within, doing more harm to our collective friendship and communion than the ‘enemy’ from without. With all that Christianity is going through in Nigeria. It will be a total disservice to the body of Christ to engage in internal strife that will present us as lacking in moral clarity and the common goal of salvaging our people from oppressive regimes and religious bigotry.

Upon the many allegations and smear campaign and personal attack By Dr Nwaezigwe on some Catholic and Christian leaders a formal response to Dr Nwaezigwe a professor in the Department of History in the University of Nsukka Nigeria was written by Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto Titled: Goodluck Jonathan, The Caliphate Ritual Cow, and Ayo Oritsejafor Metaphor. It’s a very long and interesting response, which became necessary as a result of the harm that is been done to the body of Christ by its members. The few take away from the long read is what I would like to share with you depending on when you read the entire article.

“Dr Nwaezeigwe is right that the Catholic Church distanced itself from the affairs of CAN during the times of Pastor Ayo but the reasons were largely reasons based on the moral choice between the mission of CAN, which is uniting Christians and the decision to pawn that association for a seat on the table of mammon. The Catholic Church drew from its rich History knowing that the Church’s duty was not to seek a place on the bed of Caesar but to continue to prophesy to Caesar about his duty to his citizens. The Catholic Bishops Conference had a great relationship with President Jonathan, but he himself would testify that this relationship was based on respect and at no time did the Catholic Church seek special favours beyond the common good of our people.Continuing with his bizarre and muddled up conspiracy theories, Dr Nwaezeigwe blames the Catholic Church and accuses it of conspiring with Col. Sambo Dasuki and the caliphate in the disgraceful debacle over the botched lease of Pastor Ayo’s private jet to purchase arms in South Africa. First, Pastor Ayo had turned his plane into a commercial enterprise and must have landed a good financial deal when he heard it was going to be on lease by the Presidency. Their business went wrong and had the plane been used for drugs, this strange student of History would argue that the body of Christ should come out in sack cloth and ashes because their President was being framed. This phase of our history is disgraceful and its memory should conjure penance. Pastor Ayo’s plane was not on a missionary journey but a commercial enterprise. This alone was a slap on the face of Christians.

Dr. Nwaezeigwe’s failed attempt to besmirch the reputation of the Catholic Church through its leaders such as Cardinal Onaiyekan and Archbishop Kaigama is evident that there are many who are really making the devil’s work very easy. My name was mentioned but nothing was ascribed to me. Just as well because I would have like to know where they would draw their foul inspiration from. To be sure, the Presidency of Pastor Ayo was at best a period of unnecessary tumult even within the body of Christ and there are lessons for us to learn in the urgency of dialogue with our brothers of other faiths and how to guide our nation morally”.

In all of this, may we learn something about Jesus’ patience’s in the face of outright betrayal and injustice.

Fr Stephen Ojapah is a priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is equally the director for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism for the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, a member of IDFP. He is also a KAICIID Fellow. (omeizaojapah85@gmail.com)

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