Christmas signifies undying hope for Christian families – Bishop Oyejola
By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo
The Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Osogbo, Most Rev. John Oyejola, has felicitated with Nigerians, Christians in particular on this year’s occasion of Christmas and urged them not to celebrate in despair depsite challenges bedeviling the nation.
Bishop Oyejola, in his Christmas message made available to newsmen on Friday by the Director of Social Communication Commission of the diocese, Rev Fr Anthony Omodunbi, urged Christians not to forget safety measures of the coronavirus pandemic even as they celebrate with the hope that the world would soon overcome the scourge.
He admonished Christian families to embrace core tenets of the Christian faith, hope and love adding that they must not be afraid because “God is alive and active in our world.”
The cleric expressed worry over security challenges in the country ranging from banditry, terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, violence and farmers/herds conflicts adding that these deadly activities needed to be stopped urgently by concerned authorities.
According to Oyejola, “As we celebrate Christmas in the time of corona virus, spiritual reflections call us to embrace the core tenets of the Christian faith, hope and love even as the world continues to struggle with the ongoing corona virus with all the twists and turns the pandemic takes. We must not be afraid; God is alive and active in our world.
“For us Christians, the birth of Christ is a story of new life and with it new hope for the future glory that will be revealed when Christ comes again. Christians and all people on earth are to look up in hope, even if there are reasons to be afraid and to live in despair in our time, we must remember that in the most difficult periods in human history, Christians have always found consolation in the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ that begins with the birth of the Saviour in Bethlehem.
“Our celebrations of Christmas in churches and families this year should be joyful and grace filled, while we must not forget safety concerns and we must not overlook the measures put in place by health officials and other government agencies borne out of genuine concern to protect one another from the Coronavirus.
“Sadly, in our country Nigeria, banditry, terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, violence and farmers/herds conflicts continue, destruction of the livelihoods of people with increasing numbers of refugees and migrants and killings in different parts of the country call for sober reflection and genuine strong will to put an end to these anomalies.”
On why Christians should celebrate the season with joy and gladness, the Chief Shepherd of the diocese said, “The greatest news about the merciful intervention of God in human affairs for the salvation of the world came unexpectedly and to a simple and humble young woman living in a rural part of Israel. Angel Gabriel was sent to Mary with the message of Annunciation of the conception of Jesus Christ – Emmanuel “God with us.” Her humble response of acceptance of the task entrusted to her is contained in the statement: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your words.” With her assent and consent to the message from the Most High God, Mary prepared the ground for the birth of the eternally begotten son of God into a concrete human family.
“When eventually the Son of God was born nine months after the Annunciation, there was no propaganda, there was no outlandish publicity, not even town criers were there to announce the presence of the angelic messengers of the Most High who carried the news about the birth of Christ not to Kings, nobles and the wealthy people of the time but to Shepherds: “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2: 10-11). Through the birth of Christ, God became man, so that man can attain salvation and share in the divine nature of God.”
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