These words were spoken long ago to people living in anxiety, fear, and despair, people feeling bereft of security and safety. We hear them early on Christmas, forgetting that they were first spoken hundreds of years before the birth we celebrate.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Christmas is here again! We commemorate the birth of the child Jesus. Not just any child, but the Son of God, Jesus Christ true God and true man. A time for us Christians to turn our thoughts and attention towards the unprecedented event in the city of Bethlehem, the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who gave meaning and brought hope to our earthly existence.
Christmas is supposed to be a time when men and women together with nations dedicate and re-dedicate themselves to the cause of establishing goodwill and justice among all people so that our earth may continue to enjoy peace. Unfortunately, our world today can boast of everything but peace. Consequently, for over 2000 years now after the birth of Christ, humanity continues to live in tension.
Our world today is characterized by distress and pains. In our country Nigeria, governance is characterized by greed, reckless expenditure and insensitivity to the basic needs of the populace. We are witnesses to how public office holders discharge their constitutional duties to the nation on the basis of religious or tribal affiliations. Freedom and the security of life and property have been sacrificed on the altar of impunity. There are groups or individuals who feel they alone have the right to breath the air of peace and happiness in the country. Christmas has therefore become a period of instilling fear in the hearts of people.
Thus, most people today are afraid by what they have heard or what they have perceived will happen during this period of festivity and as such have travelled home or are preparing to run from where they stay and earn their daily bread. It is in the light of this that I strongly urge us all to be security conscious, to remain steadfast and to pray for divine protection so that the plans of the evil one will not come to fruition.
Jesus Christ has not only fulfilled our hope, but He has also given us the power to bring peace on earth. So, if only each person, each father and mother, if only each husband and wife, son and daughter, if only you and I realize that the power to bring peace lies in our hands, then and only then will the world, our country, our state and our families truly experience peace.
So, my wish to us all this Christmas is that - our lives may take the shape that we have imagined or desired, and may we always remain focused and active. And that this Christmas will bring us peace, reconciliation and harmony. And as we all celebrate this very important season, be assured of my prayers and blessings. I wish you the Merriest Christmas ever and a blessed New Year ahead!
Most Rev. Stephen Dami Mamza.
Catholic Bishop of Yola.