Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 2th April, 2021
“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay” Matthew 28:5-6
Dearly beloved, we are here again celebrating the resurrection of the Lord. This celebration, like the ones in the past few years, comes at a time the world and especially our country Nigeria is painfully passing through difficult times. This experience is largely characterised by kidnapping, banditry, killings, hunger and starvation, gender inequality etc.
Despite all these sad events that bedevil us, our song is alleluia the Lord is risen! He who “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried” is truly risen. This in fact is the foundation of our faith and hope (cf. 1Cor. 15:14). The resurrection of Christ from the dead according to Pope Francis is “no magic formula that makes problems vanish. It is the victory of love over the root of evil, a victory that does not by-pass suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good: this is the unique hallmark of the power of God.” It is in this also that our power to true witnessing in the world lies.
Do not be afraid! Yes, these are the words of the angel to the women who went to anoint the body of Lord early in the morning. The risen Lord himself uttered the same words severally during his public ministry (cf. Matt 10:28, 14:27, Mk 5:36 etc.) and even after his resurrection (cf. Matt. 28:10). Indeed, as Christians we have nothing to fear because even in the most dangerous moments of life, there is hope. In all things therefore, we shall echo our songs of thanksgiving with the Apostle Peter saying “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1Peter 1:3-5).
“Peace be with you” was the first Easter greetings of the risen Lord (cf. Jn 20:19-20). When we are not afraid then we are at peace! And so as our thoughts are always on the challenging realities affecting mutual coexistence in our country, I invite us as true disciples of the risen Lord to make peace our project. We need to be united in this project. Our Lord whose resurrection we celebrate never remained indifferent in the face of oppression and injustice (cf. Jn 18:23). Easter should therefore be for us a time in which we shun self-centeredness, division and indifference in order to rise up to the occasion of challenging structural injustice and inequality. We need to articulate the life of Jesus in the context of our daily experience. Ours should therefore aim at responding constantly to the demand of being truthful and accountable.
Easter is the celebration of VICTORY! And so, our difficulties and challenges of life cannot hold us to ransom and we shall proclaim with the Apostle Paul “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 15:57).
May the risen Christ guide us on this path and make us effective in our pursuit for lasting peace in the world.
Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Dami Mamza
Catholic Bishop of Yola