May Mercy and Justice flow in Nigeria, Alleluia!

Divine Mercy Sunday, 7th April 2024, at Church of Annunciation, Arab Road, Kubwa, Abuja. Homily by Archbishop I.A. Kaigama.

Readings: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-7; John 20: 19-31

May Mercy and Justice flow in Nigeria, Alleluia!

Easter greetings my dear parishioners of Church of the Annunciation, Arab Road, Kubwa. We are still very much in the euphoria of Easter. May this joy last for a very long time and help us to overcome the many personal challenges and those facing our country. Easter is a feast of hope. We believe that even if we pass through the valley of darkness, there is light at the end. We say in Latin, Dum Spiro Spero, “while I breathe, I hope” (once there is life, there is hope). My episcopal motto is: “through the cross to the glory of God.” May God bring all of us to His glory after our earthly journey.

Your priest, Fr. Gabriel Edache, is a man of hope and faith, like the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. Fr. Edache kept pleading that I come to pray with you even though I said I would be away on my Easter break. He succeeded. Today I am here.

Dear parishioners, including the two hundred and seventy five (275) of you due for confirmation, I call on you to be proclaimers of good news. Nigeria needs positive news, positive thinking, and actions. Show the world that you are Christians, by behaving like Christ. Be Christophers i.e. bearers of Christ, ambassadors of Christ; Christ’s witnesses, because the world today, prefers witnesses to teachers or preachers.

Jesus calls us to be Instruments of God’s Mercy and peace when He said to His disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you…. He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 20-24). By this, Jesus instituted the sacrament of His mercy, the sacrament of Reconciliation and peace. May the bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, criminals, militant herdsmen, etc. experience this peace and stop tormenting their fellow human beings.

Today, we celebrate Divine Mercy feast. After Jesus’ resurrection, He bequeathed His disciples, the gift of His peace – the peace that the world cannot give, not even the United Nations, African Union, the European Union, or the powerful nations. The world is unable to bring an end to the devastating wars in Ukraine and Gaza. In Nigeria, those kidnapped; the 17 murdered military personnel on 14th of March 2024, and many other unwholesome crimes seem to have become recurring realities. Countries spend so much on wars. And as these wars rage, so many people suffer, human life is endangered. In West Africa, coups have resurfaced. Kudos to Senegal for democratically producing a young president despite the odds. As the young are given a chance to lead, we hope they will prove themselves. However, being young does not make one automatically an effective leader. It is not just about being young but being imaginative, humble, and driven by genuine patriotism, having a sense of distributive justice and an attentiveness to God’s guiding Spirit.

The message of today, calls us to be God’s instruments of mercy, love and peace. The disciples, i.e. “the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul…. There was not any one needy among them” (Acts 4:32-35). They made themselves available for others and would not allow selfishness deprive the others of the love and mercy they deserve. They allowed themselves to be used by God to reach out to the needy. We too can and should do the same. This is the true spirit of Easter.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives, be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

As we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy, as our Lord instructed Saint Faustina, we should ponder on the depth of God’s love and the forgiveness available to all, no one is excluded. As our Holy Father would say, this mercy is for all: “todos, todos, todos.” And Psalm 118 would say, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.”

Political leaders in Nigeria should ensure that nobody should go to bed hungry, feel unsafe in his/her environment or become so poor as to be unable to access the necessities of life: water, light, education, healthcare, food, shelter, etc.

I imagine that the international community can put pressure on insensitive leaders who corruptly enrich themselves and provide no social security for their people, leave youths largely unemployed, and spend so much on governance. When can the rights of the poor, victims terrorized by religious bigots and terrorists, kidnappers, be put on the front burner of the hierarchy of priorities of the international community? How I wish the international community would confront our leaders who govern badly and pressurize them to fight poverty, diseases and immorality. Unfortunately, powerful nations seem to provide more support for war, easier services for abortion, zealously promoting the rights of same-sex couples, but weakly responding to the issues of poverty, hunger, and disease and a host of anomalies.

Today, God has thrown a party of mercy, during which we can receive God’s infinite mercy. Like Thomas, let us all come to this party and exclaim, “My Lord and my God!” Let us give God the first place (numero uno), even as we try to love and to be merciful to our neighbours and to uphold their dignity. May Mercy, peace, justice and love flow in Nigeria like a river. Amen

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