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Passion of significant, promise

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THE journey to Easter which began with Lent on Ash Wednesday coalesces to Holy-week, as Christians all over the world patiently and humbly step towards the ultimate event in the puritan cycle upon which their hope for resurrection rests – Easter!

Lent is arguably a very tasking period in the life of a true Christian as it comes with demand for followers of Christ to mortify all pleasures of life in pursuit of heavenly grace. This requires the Christian to lead a penitential life, show more love to others through arms giving, fasting and praying, not  just for your good but more for the good of others.

This Lent which spans 40 days to Easter beginning with Ash Wednesday is indeed pain borne with happiness and humility by Christians who understand the message and promise of salvation hidden in the cross.

Christendom marked the advent of Holy Week with Palm Sunday on April 14, 2019. Palm Sunday in its significance in strengthening the Christian’s faith emphasises the  kingship of Jesus Christ as he entered Jerusalem riding on a colt. The Jews despite their unbelief, according to Bible accounts, heard the many miraculous works of Jesus and could not hide their longings to encounter Him. This was expressed by the overwhelming chant of Hosanah to the son of God as the waiting crowd waved, spread palm fronds and cloths on His path as He made the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the city of God.

Ironically, that triggered renewed envy from the Jewish elites who would not want the Messiahship be ascribed to Jesus, whom they know his humble birth. To them, the Messiah awaited for about 2000 years should come with the paraphernalia of earthly royalty than humble birth as presented in Jesus’ situation. For this cause, the same crowd that shouted Hosannah on the triumphant entry to Jerusalem intensified plot to get Him killed. Today (Holy Thursday), the Christians are reminded of the Passion that awaits them which only humility can dispose them to bear, if hope of making heaven is theirs. Trials and temptations are bound to come but submission to the will of God places the faithful on good pedestal for victory.

According to the Chaplain, Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent, Nkpor, in Idemili North Local Government Area, Rev Fr. Samuel  Nwadike ….during his Palm Sunday homily, “be reminded as a Christian that the journey is not entirely smooth and sweet. Christ himself foreseeing what awaits him was filled with heavy heart and cried out, ‘Father! if only this cup should pass away from me, nonetheless, not my will but thy (God) will alone be done.'” He emphasised the need to commit everything to God in faith, as there could be no resurrection which is the ultimate ground upon which the Christian’s faith is built, without death.

Against the rules of earthly royalty, Biblical account teaches overriding humility that should guide leaders’ actions as exemplified by Jesus when rather than allow his servants wash his feet, chose to wash his servants’ feet. This negates the prevailing orders of societal protocol where leaders lord over their subjects from exalted offices than serve them with their positions. Today, the church (Catholic) will demonstrate this rare humility that challenges present day rulers and tasks them on service, love and accountability.

The need for caution in the earthly affairs of humanity comes to the fore with today’s commemoration of ‘Last Supper’ as those who were chanting Hosannah soon change their rhythm to Crucify Him. This portrays the feeble nature of man and their susceptibility to failings under little pressure and high expectations. Judas remains the dark link through which the light has come to the faithful. He betrayed his master and died in his sins. Poor him!, but Peter equally showed human failings, denying Jesus his much professed loved master, three times in one night. When Peter realised what he had done at the crow of the cock, he wept for himself and prayed for forgiveness. This implies that it does not count the fall of man to sin, but the ability to rise from the burden of the sin and seek forgiveness from God, He is ever ready to forgive, if the forgiveness is sought with genuine disposition.

Today’s event climaxes with Good Friday, tomorrow; when the church commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus with hope of resurrection on Easter day (Sunday). On Easter, the tortuous 40 days Christian journey of penitence ends, but a new vista of living the lessons gained from the lent begins.

It would be ridiculous that one after suffering their body these last 40 days will desecrate it for a passing fun. But does it not often happen? The conducts of many pilgrims who after visiting holy grounds at Jerusalem in Isreal for the Christians or Mecca for the Muslims challenge morality as drummed by religion. While it is not the bearing of this piece to discuss morality, it is appropriate to draw the attention of both religious leaders and followers alike to the need for self exorcism and greater need for genuine embrace of self discipline. If the culture of discipline is deeply cultivated in the system, the task of piety will be reduced to habit already internalised in the character.

Nigeria is a country where religious dogmatism and extremism make waves according to survey. One would expect that the frenzy driving religious extremism will reflect in her culture and conduct. Then the question arises, from which extracts or sects have those who had continuously tormented the country with heinous crimes come? Those who had looted the country blind, those who had massacred their compatriots, those who had stolen the collective mandate as well as the freedom and liberty of the people, are they just from the moon or are they holistically products of secular elements in the religious imposed serene society? Then, If your answer exonerates not the religious, then the people’s religious inclinations are fraught with some fundamental flaws.

The faith preached by all religions gives hope. Christians leverage on mercy bought for them with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, they have no one to blame if the substance of the faith they profess is lost in the hunt for materlism. Let the light of Lent guide them aright in their profession and conduct. The daily life they lead is enough call for societal transformation, if they truly follow the principles of Jesus Christ, the great teacher.

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