Rejoice! For nothing is impossible to God (Lk. 1:38)

Season Greetings to the beloved Priests, Religious and Laity of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta and to all God’s people as we enter into this season of joy and the celebration of the birth of Christ our Savior and Redeemer. The four weeks of Advent have been moments of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas and a reminder of Christ’s second coming at the end of time. Our prayers and reflections have afforded us the opportunity to once again reflect on the history of our salvation.

Christmas reminds us that the fall of Adam which brought sin and condemnation to mankind that caused us to forfeit fellowship with God has been overcome by the love of God who sent his Son to redeem us. Oh! What a loving wisdom of our God, when all was sin and shame who sent a second Adam to rescue us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin (Col. 1:13-14). The season of Christmas presents to us once more, God’s gift of His Son Jesus Christ to humanity; a gift higher than grace, God’s presence and His very self with essence all-divine.

The reality of the Incarnation is once again brought to us; a wonderful story of divine presence. It echoes in our ears once again the words of the angel of the Lord to Joseph, “Look! The virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Emmanuel, a name which means God is with us” (Lk. 1:23). Hence, the Incarnation is our hope of redemption (Mt 1:21)

As we bring to a close the celebration of the year of St. Joseph as declared by the Holy Father for the year 2021, we cannot but emulate his faith in God and in His promises. Joseph and Mary believed through the words of the angel that with God nothing is impossible (Lk. 1:38). Hence, my call to all of you God’s people at this time to find a reason to be joyful despite the circumstances surrounding us in Nigeria. No doubt, the present situation of our country calls for prayer and sober reflection. We see all around us the rising insecurity situation of our country which unfortunately despite concerted efforts seems to be getting worse with our fellow Nigerians being kidnapped, raped, maimed and killed on a daily basis by terrorists posing as bandits. The violation of the dignity of women and young people who have become victims of the hopeless security crises is also quite depressing.

Though Government and the security agents seem to be doing their best but the situation unfortunately shows that more needs to be done. While we continue to awaken the government of the day to its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of Nigerians, we like to call everyone to continue to pray for Nigeria. The prayer for Nigeria in distress as composed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria is definitely apt at this time. I therefore enjoin all to at least pray One Hail Mary, daily for God to save Nigeria from her present predicaments.

Nigeria needs redemption now than ever. We see danger of poverty, hunger, famine and terror in the land; the sick go unattended, dreams of many are shattered, their cup of sorrow runs over as death hits us on daily basis in our fatherland. Our nation needs the glorious light of Jesus Christ to dispel the darkness of our hearts and give us the sight for peace, justice and progress of our commonwealth. We need the tender loving care of the heart of God exhibited in the coming of the Messiah to love one another as brothers and sisters for the prosperity and unity of our country.

However, as people of faith and hope, with assurance in God’s promises particularly as we commemorate the birth of our Messiah to undo the works of evil (I Jn. 3:8), we call on everyone to have a reason like Mary the Mother of God who in the midst of her confusion, found a reason to rejoice and praise God who alone can intervene when all seems to fall apart. Her faith took her beyond despair to hope and frustration to praise. While drawing strength and trust from Joseph and Mary, we too have a reason to rejoice and be joyful, not because everything seems right with our nation, state or families but because first that we alive to witness another celebration of Christmas and also that we serve a God who can change situations around for good; for a Saviour has been born for us, Emmanuel - “God is with us”.

As people of hope, we rejoice in God’s wonderful plan for us; plan for peace, hope and better Nigeria (Jer. 28:11). Our democracy may be going through turbulence as we struggle to understand what a government that works for the people and not a section means. The evils of religious bigotry, tribalism, nepotism still taint our call to patriotism and national development. As people of love, we must collaborate with government at all levels through our love for one another to ensure that unity and common good permeate our life and activities.

Our joy resonates around the fact that no one can manage the affairs of our lives and nation better than God. If we have lost anything this year, God is the reason we have not lost everything as a nation. While we continue to call the government to be proactive particularly in the area of security, we see more concerns and are encouraged by other well meaning Nigerians who remain undaunted in finding a lasting solution to insurgency, hunger, ill health and banditry in Nigeria. Procurement of vaccines for the ongoing vaccination exercise across the nation to achieve basic immunity is a wonderful development. We urge people to take advantage of this programme and be vaccinated against the deadly Coronavirus that is ravaging lives across the world and continue to keep to the non-pharmaceutical measures of the use of face masks and hand sanitizers for maximum protection.  

It is in this joy of the Lord that we find strength to forge ahead with hope for a better year as we prepare for 2022. When everything else fails, we remind ourselves that God is still with us and will definitely save us from the problems that presently confront us (Heb. 2:3) We use this medium to call on God’s people and people of goodwill to continue to seek the way of the Lord in their lives as we wish one another a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2022 in advance. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Joseph her most chaste spouse continue to be the cause of our joy.

Most Rev. Dr. Peter Odetoyinbo

Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta             

20th December, 2021


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