‘We Must Seek The Wellbeing Of Others, Not Self’
‘Improve On Self, Relationship With God And Your Neighbour’
(Rev. Fr. Ralph Okechukwu Madu, Secretary General, Catholic Secretariat, Abuja)
THIS year’s Lenten season falls very adequately into the covenant year of mercy promulgated by the Holy Father, which would end this year at the feet of Christ the King. The type of sacrifice we are to make borders on the total work of mercy, which means helping people, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and of course, the spiritual work of mercy. All of these form the right attitude and dictate of the Lenten season. It is a time of prayer, almsgiving, as well as improving the wellbeing of orphans, widows and homeless. It is a period for depriving yourself of some things in order to help another person. This is the type of sacrifice that one is expected to intensify during this Lenten season. Of course, it is based on personal conviction.
We have to appreciate the effort that government is making and of course, be patient with them, as there is limit to everything. For instance, if a person is owed three to six months salary, you tend not to understand what is happening. Patience and some amount of tolerance are needed. But then, there have to be policies put in place to improve the situation concerning those in government’s employment.
This is a period of deep reflection and that is why I talked about conversion. Reflection can be truly creative, if you reflect on yourself, reflect on your relationship with God and with your neighbor. These are things you can reflect on and improve on them, as well as look for a way forward, and Lent offers us the opportunity to do so. We must not also overlook the importance of prayer, which is a communication. Prayer is an encounter and a dialogue, all of which help one to appreciate who God is, as well as understand how He does His things, so you don’t impose your own personal idiosyncrasies on Him.
This is why we urge believers to pray and allow God direct them so that His way would be beneficial to them. So, reflection is very important because it helps one to come up with some very serious personal conversion. And that is why it is said there is nobody who doesn’t need to improve on one aspect of life or the other. All these things call for reflection and you can only do that if you are in a very quiet place. Every now and then, people should take stock of their lives, reflect on the word and see how it could help them improve their lives.
‘As You Mortify Self This Season, Pray For Good Of The Country’
(Rt. Rev. Oluranti Odubogun, Bishop of the Diocese of Ife, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
WE should focus on God, Who is all-sufficient and in whom there is no impossibility. Therefore, having mortified your body and elevated your spirit in communion with God, you are expected to pray for God’s intervention in human affairs, in the affairs of our country, asking God to take control and reign supreme in the hearts of those who are in governance and generally for all Nigerians to have the fear of God in all they do, so that God’s will and purpose prevail in the country.
While we are doing all these, we should not forget that the essence of the season is for everyone to enter into penitence. In other words, it is a penitential period, where you elevate the spirit and mortify the body so you can be in full attunement with God. You reject and atone for your sins and pray for God’s mercy on the individual and an all-round mercy so that God in His mercy will forgive us our sins.
Lent is a period when we are reminded that we are mortals, born in sin, but that God has done a wonderful thing through Jesus Christ, Who was offered for the atonement of our sins. So, reflecting on this, it is a time that we are expected to maintain quality time praying in God’s presence. That is the essence and lesson we need to learn from the Lenten season.
‘If Nigerians Could Return To God There’s Nothing He Cannot Do For Us’
(His Grace, Most Revd. Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, Primate of the African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria)
WE must seek the wellbeing of others; this is not the time for us to be selfish. This is the time to make sacrifice of some thing that could have been beneficial to you for the sake of others. The Bible enjoins us that if we must love God, we must first and foremost love someone else and this is what God is expecting from us at this Lenten season.
It is true that we are facing some challenges now as a nation and I want to thank God because the Lenten period is very timely. It is a period most Christians are expected to draw closer to God. It is a time most Christians are remorseful and a time we are expected to seek the Lord’s face. Pray and fast and seek the Lord’s counsel for His blessings to flow in our lives.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whosoever covereth his/her sins shall not prosper but if he/she confesseth and forsaketh them shall find the mercy of the Lord. I’m not saying that this is the only time that one has to fast, pray and ask God for forgiveness. As a people and nation, if all of us, at a time like this, would seek God’s face and confess our sins, weaknesses, inabilities and disobedience before Him, and ask Him to forgive us, there will be noticeable difference. But aside His forgiveness, all of us should have a change of heart, turn away from our wicked ways so that God will forgive us and heal our land. By forgiving us, He will turn things around in Nigeria. By forgiving us, He will give us an economy we would be proud of.
For instance, in Genesis 26, the Bible says Isaac sojourned in a particular land. Before then, the people’s economy was hopeless, but because Isaac was carrying God’s presence with him, in that same land, he planted and God prospered the land for his sake. What I’m saying is that if Nigerians could return to God He would also return to us. There is nothing He cannot do. He is the One that created Nigeria and everything about the country, including Nigerians. He has the ability to turn things around and bless us. The Bible says, “with God all things are possible,” not with the economy of the nation. So, let Nigerians, especially our leaders, acknowledge God as the Supreme Being that we cannot do without. Our leaders should fear God. The Bible says it shall be well with such people and their nation. We should seek the righteousness of God and not our own self-righteousness. God who blessed other nations can also bless us.
‘We Are Going To Take 10 Per cent Out Of What We Have And Give To The Poor, IDPs’
(His Eminence Dr. Samuel ‘Emeka Kanu Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria)
LENT is 40 days of being deep in reflection, penitence, fasting and prayer in commemoration of two things: the 40 days and 40 nights that Jesus spent in the wilderness, and mark His last days on earth, which culminated into Good Friday, Holy Saturday and then the victory on Easter Sunday. During the time in question, we used ash to remind ourselves that every human being is frail and dust, because we are made of dust and must return to dust. So, in our glory and arrogance, we must remember that we are mere mortals. Only God is immortal, everlasting and only Him determines what happens to us.
We also commemorate that Jesus Christ took our human form in order to make us divine and in God’s likeness and by this He assured us of a life after here. So, a Christian does not live for himself; The Christian lives to the glory of God and a Christian’s life is in Christ, Who determines what a person will be. Also, it is a period of penance, when we are show deep remorse for our past sins and ask God to give power for a greater impact in our society. It is also a time we save money to take care of the poor in our midst. I will urge all Christians in Nigeria and every denomination to save money so that after this Lenten period, all denominations and persons do what the Muslims call zakat in Islam. That means we are going to take 10 per cent out of what we have and give to the poor. We expect loads of rice, tubers of yam, money, clothes, soap and other condiments, which we will take to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and in doing that, we will not discriminate because God is the same for Muslims, Christians and animists and even if they don’t belong to any religion.
He has equal love for everybody and that is why I feel very disturbed, when man kills his fellow man or when man, out of selfishness, wants to undo his fellow man. It is not God’s nature, which wills that we all live together, accommodate one another and show love to one another. Love is the only thing that will build up our nation. God’s type of love will remove vandalisation, hostilities and militancy, agitation and every form of destruction. Then our leaders should know God and realise that they are under Him. They should promote justice, equity, righteousness and peace, compassion for the less privileged because I think that every big man or woman is irrelevant, if he or she is selfish. They are elevated by God to take care of the less privileged in the society and I believe that is the real religion we must practise.
We need to support the government of Muhammadu Buhari and all the state governments with our prayers.