Third Sunday of Easter (Mother’s Day), 14th April, 2024, St. Donald’s Parish, Karu, Abuja. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama.

Readings: Acts 3:13-15. 17-19ab; Psalm 4:2.4.7; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48


That Christ died and rose is in no doubt. The excitement of this unprecedented phenomenon was palpable among the disciples. The risen Christ was why the women found an empty tomb; He was the very one the disciples on the road to Emmaus encountered during which their hearts were burning as He talked with them explaining the scriptures. The breaking of bread as described in the gospel today occurred to show without any element of doubt that indeed Christ died and rose from the dead. Luke observes that the apostles’ disbelief was a consequence of sheer joy on their part (“in their joy they were disbelieving”). News of the resurrection appeared to them just too good to be true!

The emphasis today is not about the mere excitement following the resurrection of Christ, but the need to transcend the resurrection reality by doing something personal and concrete.

Beyond the resurrection excitement, today’s readings speak to us about repentance, forgiveness, and how the resurrection should become a transformative power for us. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostle, Peter addressed the people, acknowledging their role in the crucifixion of Jesus, yet offering them hope through repentance and conversion. Peter invites them to turn away from their sins. This passage reminds us of the importance of acknowledging our faults, to seek forgiveness, and to embrace the mercy of God.

In our second reading, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we are told of the salvation which our Lord Jesus, brought for us, by His actions and selfless sacrifice on the Cross. This is to remind us that we cannot be perfect and faithful Christians, without believing and professing our faith, in all of our words, actions, and deeds, and without carrying the Cross of Christ.

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we too are invited to open our hearts to the presence of the risen Lord in our midst, allowing Him to transform us and fill us with His peace and love; like the apostles, that Christ will break bread for us and give himself as our Bread. We are seeking a more robust faith nourished by the Word of God and His real presence in the Eucharist.

Today, your parish is producing 476 candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation, making them soldiers of Christ and stronger Christians. This is a call and a reminder to us all to accept our responsibility as followers of Christ, called to be witnesses. A witness is someone who speaks from firsthand experience of what has happened. Like the apostles, we must be courageous to stand up for the truth of the Gospel and not just to stand for a while, but to remain standing, come what may. We must not be ashamed of bearing witness to the truth of the Gospel. Whenever we allow the world to shut us up from proclaiming the Gospel, we are saying that the story that the world has is more important than the story of the resurrection. And when we do this, we are crucifying Jesus again and again.

However, note that when we take up our responsibilities, we will be wounded, because the world will hate us. As Christians, we cannot go through this world without wounds and scars. Our faith must be kept burning. A burning faith can result in either of two things: a balanced faith that translates into good actions; or a fanatical faith that translates into violence, killing, maiming, and destroying property without the slightest compunction, i.e. an irrational, stupid, and blind faith.

Also, we can have a dull faith that is incapable of making a difference in one’s life or society. Such faith may even question the existence of God, as is increasingly done by those who think science and technology and the use of artificial intelligence are the only solutions to human problems. That is not the kind of faith Christ wants of us. We are called to have a balance; a faith that will prompt us to bear witness in good actions.

Today, in Nigeria, is Mother’s Day, as approved by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria, a day in which we celebrate our mothers. They are special and deserve to be celebrated for their love and the many sacrifices they make for the family. Mothers are the hearts of the family and the designers of the family. Mothers have an important role in the children’s growth. We recognize your place and the irreplaceable role you play in the life of the home, and we do not take that for granted. According to Pope Francis, a mother is a life-giver. This is what we celebrate today on Mother’s Day. We say, thank you, and may God continue to bless and reward you graciously. So, to everyone, we are called to celebrate all mothers, whether your mother is still alive or not, celebrate her, please.

To all mothers, as we celebrate you today, I urge you to continue to bear witness to Christ in your various homes and the society at large. Be true mothers who are models to their children in virtue. That is what God calls you to. Do not try to be men or to want to be like them. Accept your role gladly and exercise it diligently. As the recent Vatican Document, “Infinite Dignity,” affirms, the difference between male and female is real, inviolable, and a gift from God. May God bless you and strengthen you to carry out your responsibilities to the glory of God.

I would like to also congratulate and commend you the parish priest, Fr. Kennedy Ohazuruike, and your assistant, Fr. Solomon Danladi, and the entire parishioners, for your tireless commitment to bearing witness to the Gospel, which is evident in the great and bountiful harvest of almost 500 parishioners who will be confirmed today. May God continue to sustain and strengthen you all.

May the joy of the resurrection continue to urge us on in bearing witness with our Christ-like lives.

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