He Makes Everything Beautiful in His Own Time: A New Year
He Makes Everything Beautiful in His Own Time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
A New Year Message by His Grace, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja. 31 December 2021.
A New Year
As the Roman double-faced god, Janus looks both to the past and to the future, the eclipse of one year and the ushering in of another is often an opportune moment to reflect on the changing times and seasons. Could there be a better guide in this reflection outside of the celebrated words of the wise composer of the Book of Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) concerning times and seasons in Qohelet 3:1-11. Right from the beginning of his poem, the wise man acknowledges that time is a free gift of God and that He alone sees and controls all of time – from its beginning to its end since He abides in eternity. But all of us humans live within a limited space and time. In other words, we only have glimpses and windows into time. These windows are our opportunity to play our part on the stage of life and move on, leaving the scene for others.
During our apportioned time on earth or on that stage, we are gifted with many opportune moments for growth, for action, for influencing our environment and for touching the lives of our co-pilgrims in this journey of life. As we come to the end of one year and look forward with hope to a new year, we are afforded the chance to revisit what life has been during the twelve months which come to an end, to take stock and to tell oneself the truth.
Many Graces Amidst Challenges
A sincere reflection on the dying year on the one hand evokes gratitude for graces well used and for times well spent. Those were the times for positive action in favour of personal human and spiritual growth, for effective contribution in community service and national growth. There is definitely a lot to be grateful for this year. For a start, the Lord has spared us and our nation from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 health scare. This has happened inspite of our ill-preparedness, the despicable state of our health institutions and our complete dependence on foreign nations and agencies both for coping strategies and for critical life saving vaccines.
Moreover, our home grown problems of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and ethnic separatist agitations presented a perfect scene tilting towards a disastrous end of apocalyptic proportions.
Yet Nigeria has wobbled along, deeply divided but still one country. Although we are still a long way from that perfect harmony built on justice and equity, we still have God to thank for saving us from a catastrophe that seemed so inevitable only months ago.
Furthermore, on the part of governance, there seems to have been a fledgling effort to build and renovate critical infrastructure at both the Federal and State levels. While we know that a lot still needs to be done, realizing how vital this can be to our development as a nation, we need to appreciate the very little achieved so far and encourage our leaders to do more. However, our greatest asset remains our people. While building much needed infrastructure, the people must never be forgotten. Their hope must be sustained to live into that better future.
Our nation has done woefully in many other important areas. We have failed to arrest the further decent of more of our people into penury and degrading poverty. The ever worsening security situation kept people away from the farms and now famine stares us in the face. This is largely responsible for why even staple foods have now gone beyond the reach of average families. If we are ever going to get a handle on the deadly orgy of violent crime, this must be mitigated and very quickly. Political leaders across the board must do more than merely repeating their intention to lift the populace out of poverty. We are all in grave danger should more and more young people take to rebellion by embracing violence as the only way to be noticed as we are already witnessing.
Daring to Hope
Although we have wasted so many opportunities in both the distant and immediate past, we must dare to hope and courageously face the future together as we enter the new year 2022 with a sense of wonder and trust. That future belongs only to those who dare to hope. God is always on the side of those who know that they are far from being perfect and yet are willing to keep trying.
The beginning of a New Year is a day when many feel drawn to make good resolutions. That our hope might not be an empty optimism, we must, both leaders and the led resolve to choose the path of commitment to positive action. While there are bad people in our country like any other, I believe that most of our people have good intentions, goals and dreams to make their community and the nation a better place for everyone. I believe such good people are in the majority. While we call on the government to make sincere and concerted efforts towards protecting the good people and especially the most denfenceless, we all must also stand and be counted. Let us not allow the bad people who are in the minority to determine the direction of our lives and the dominant narratives about our country.
To stem the tide of ethnic and religious separatist agitations, our leaders must choose the path of sincere dialogue. Those of them who are surreptitiously firing the embers of discord and division for political gain must stop. This is the only credible way to prove to their followers that they are honestly committed to a united and indivisible Nigeria built on justice and equity to all. Our desire for justice is no doubt honourable, but in the name of justice, how often is violence committed which leads to injustices far worse than the ones we set out to redress! Those who are tempted to choose crime and violence as the only way to draw attention to their plight must rethink. We must first have a country before thinking of our wellbeing.
As the Covid-19 rages on and with new worrying mutations of the virus, the government must ensure that no one is left behind in its plans to find a workable solution that saves lives. As it is becoming increasingly clear that vaccines might be the life saver, government must make resources available to ensure that everyone is given the chance to receive vaccine. All however must be willing to cooperate with government, take responsibility to protect the lives of all. For as the saying now goes “Until everyone is safe, no one is safe”.
New Year Blessings
For everyone and for our dear country Nigeria my wish is:
“May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26).This ‘Blessing of Aaron’ expresses God’s care for all humanity. It is the most suitable New Year wish for all those who believe.
May the Lord Make Everything Beautiful in His Own Time.