Finding Hope Amidst Adversity: Easter Message 2024, by Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja.

Finding Hope Amidst Adversity: Easter Message 2024, by Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja.

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate the 2024 Solemnity of Easter, I wish to extend my heartfelt greetings to all Nigerians, but especially to all Christians for successfully completing the journey of Lent and coming out spiritually reinvigorated for a greater commitment to faith and more good works. In the midst of our celebrations, let us pause to reflect on the challenges that continue to beset our nation and let us draw strength from the timeless message of hope and renewal that Easter encapsulates.

Beyond its religious connotations, Easter embodies a universal message of sacrificial love, forgiveness and reconciliation. It reminds us of the transformative power of faith and the enduring grace of God amidst human weaknesses. As we pass through the complexities of our lives, we need to draw inspiration from the resilience of the Easter story and strive to emulate its teachings in all our endeavours.

Let us embrace the season of Easter as an opportunity for personal and spiritual renewal. Just as the resurrection symbolizes new life and transformation, let us embrace the season as a time for introspection, repentance and growth. Through prayer, meditation and courageous self-examination, may we rid ourselves of negativity and embrace a renewed sense of purpose and faith.

This year, Easter coincides with a unique alignment of faiths as Christian Lent intersects with Muslim Ramadan. This happy coincidence offers a profound opportunity for interfaith dialogue, solidarity and mutual understanding. In a country as diverse as Nigeria, characterized by a rich tapestry of cultures and religions, let us seize this moment to foster greater harmony and cooperation among all communities. Together, we can transcend boundaries and so celebrate our shared humanity.

During this season of fasting, reflection and the festivity that follows, both Christians and Muslims are challenged to extend a hand of compassion to all. Just as we fast, abstain and pray during Lent, Christians must see it as a call of duty in the spirit of Christ, to empathize with our Muslim neighbours as they observe Ramadan with devotion and self-discipline that we are all very familiar with. Muslims are equally encouraged to do likewise to all people of goodwill. This is the time to multiply the acts of kindness, generosity and respect for each other, so that we can cultivate a culture of inclusiveness and unity that transcends religious divides. Without this, we cannot even begin to confront the many problems that continue to draw us back in our journey as one nation.

In the spirit of Easter, let us also remember those who are marginalized, oppressed or experiencing hardship in our society. As disciples of Christ, we are called to embody His teachings of love and justice by advocating for the vulnerable and the marginalized. Let us strive to be beacons of hope in a world often overshadowed by grief and despair, offering a helping hand to those in need and uplifting the spirit of the downtrodden.

Surely, many of our people already in the throes of despair, desperately need a hand to lift them up. The recent upsurge in abductions across the country but especially in Borno and Kaduna states, the mindless killings in Benue and Taraba states have again cast a long shadow of fear and uncertainty over our land. The return of violence in the Niger Delta, culminating in the unfortunate murder of security personnel as well as the sacking of communities and the displacement of people, is heartbreakingly, a major setback that needs to be reversed speedily to bring succour to families who have been torn apart and communities left reeling from the trauma of these heinous acts. As we mourn the loss again of innocent lives and pray for the safe return of those who have been taken, let us hold fast to the hope that justice will prevail and that peace will be restored to all troubled families and communities. In this regard, we encourage our leaders to ensure justice and fairness to all as the only viable way for allowing healing to start.

Moreover, the prevalence of hunger in our land due to the removal of fuel subsidy has added to the burden borne by countless families already struggling to make ends meet. The weakening of the naira and general inflation have further exacerbated the plight of the most vulnerable among us. In the midst of such economic hardship, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by despair and hopelessness. Yet, Easter challenges us to stand with one another in solidarity and to extend a helping hand to those in need. Let us heed the words of Christ, who reminds us that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to Him.

In times of adversity, it is natural to question our faith and to wonder where God is in the midst of our suffering. Yet Easter reminds us that even in the darkest moments of our lives, God is present, working silently but steadfastly to bring about redemption and renewal. Just as the resurrection transformed despair into hope and death into life, so too can God’s love and grace transform our pain and suffering into opportunities for growth and for healing.

We can all be happy collaborators with the Lord of our salvation if we also on account of Easter, renew our commitment to building a more just and compassionate society. Let us resolve to speak out against injustice and oppression. But more especially, let us work tirelessly to create a world where all God’s children can live in dignity and peace. We are called to be agents of positive change in our communities, shining the light of Christ’s love in the darkest corners of our land.

In closing, I urge you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to hold fast to the hope that Easter brings. Though the road seems long and difficult, let us take comfort in the certain knowledge that we do not walk alone. For Christ is risen, and His light shines brightly in the darkness, guiding us ever onward towards a brighter tomorrow.

May the peace and joy of Easter be with you and your loved ones today and always. Happy and Blessed Easter to all.

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