Christians must stand to wage war against menaces that give us a horrific stare, with all the weapons of Christian moral values and a surprising attitude of non-violence to a violent society. Our war isn’t that of bloodshed, vengeance, anger, hatred, but the conquering of evil and its perpetrators with the light of truth and the balance between faith and reason that exalts humanity as the centre of every endeavour. The current socio-political clime of our dear country Nigeria, is indeed volatile as we witness almost intermittently the unbridled spate of killings, shameful insecurity techniques at all levels and a sheer lack of respect for our common humanity. It seems to be that nothing really sears us away from each other more dangerously than religion; religious ideals and practices that trample upon the very core of our existence. What else can be responsible for this if not the egregious discrepancy between faith and reason? On the occasion that one of the other tilts to the extreme of the scale, the result cannot but be devastating. Faith without reason and reason without faith is never good for the survival of societies. Nonetheless, the one person who guarantees this balance is our master and Saviour Jesus who by his example separates us from the schemes of the world and the ius talionis mode of operation – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Is this to mask the feelings of sadness, or the anger that we genuinely feel? Definitely no. Are we going to lie about how tempted we are to revenge and send a message that we aren’t fools? No! We cannot.
Yet the very question that strikes us at heart is, what would Jesus do and what would he have us do? My dear brethren, nothing should stop our witnessing in the face of what seems to be the fate of the Nigerian Christian. Like Cain in the Bible whom the Lord put a mark on, we seem to have been marked out, since we are Christians, by these bloodthirsty human beings. The Prophet Ezekiel speaks about those who received a mark on their heads because of their righteousness and faithfulness, in order to separate them from the corrupt and immoral people of the time and also to save them from an impending punishment (See Ezekiel 9). As we read in the Revelation of John, the faithful as they stand with the Lamb, shall see him face to face and his name will be written on their foreheads (Rev. 14: 1). At our baptism, we were marked with the sign of the cross, as we were claimed for Christ, a subtle death to the world. At the beginning of our prayer or Liturgy, we place the sign of the cross over ourselves and the name – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – a delicate reminder that Christ himself has marked us out to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. The present situation in Nigeria challenges all of us to a life of coherent witnessing to the Gospel. The impact of our Christian faith must be felt in public life. This is not a time for compromises for the sake of personal convenience, but rather for heroism in Christian virtues. Remember the words of our Lord, ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body’ (Matthew 10:28). Furthermore, foreseeing a period like this in the life of his disciples, our Lord said: ‘You will be hated by all because of my name, but no hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance, you will secure your lives’ (Luke 21:19).
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale, Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos
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