By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, Most Rev. Dr. Peter Odetoyinbo has advised Nigerians to be their brother’s keeper in accordance with the God’s command, especially this time when the world is been ravaged by coronavirus pandemic.
He made the call in his Easter message to Christians and Nigerian as they are experienced Easter celebration in a lockdown.
Odetoyinbo lamented that, it’s very painful to see Christians celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in the era of Covid-19 popularly called Corona Virus.
He said, as we celebrate Solemnity of the Resurrection of Jesus; we celebrate the Risen Lord as our hope, our succour, our strength and victory over sin, illness and death; Christ is indeed our health and salvation.
This year’s celebration is very unique and significant because of the reality in our World and Church today. This reality is rather not to be lived and accepted with lamentations and regrets but as a positive call and sign from God for us to understand, evaluate and reflect as individuals, as Families, as Priests, Religious and Lay faithful on the real meaning of the Resurrection of the Lord, the Easter. Each of us must draw from the present reality the significance of the abiding presence of the Risen Lord.
“As we commemorate the paschal mystery of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I wish to share with you beloved brethren this Easter message, this message of hope and consolation, when we celebrate the triumphant victory of Jesus Christ over death and the assurance of our fellowship with our heavenly Father who loves us and never gives up on us. God demonstrated this love by sending us His only begotten son; Jesus Christ, to pay the supreme price for our redemption (Jn 3:16).
“As Peter preached “Jesus, as the anointed of the Father, with the Holy Spirit and with power, went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil for God was with him,… they put him to death by hanging him on a tree but God raised him up on the third day and made him manifest” (Acts 10:38-40).
“Therefore, at this Easter, we cannot but celebrate our hope in the Resurrection of the Lord with our hope to overcome every affliction that beset us as the people of God, for upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole and with his stripes, we are healed (Is. 53:5) and delivered from sin and the devil; to Him be glory and honour forever”.
He said, this year’s celebration is indeed a unique one, unlike the regular events of Lent and Holy Week that usher us into a befitting celebration of the paschal mystery, our celebrations and preparations were affected by the precautionary directives of the Federal Government and the Ogun State Government and of course our Church; on the need for us to stay at home in order to curtail the spread of the COVID-19. At this point, it is important that I commend the Government, Doctors, Nurses, Security Agents, the Press and all People of Goodwill, who have responded in no small measure to this pandemic and the Citizens for all of their sacrifices this period; it has been such a trying time not only for Christians and Catholics but also everyone and indeed the whole wide world.
Our world today faces a common enemy; a virus that cares not about nationality, ethnicity, rich, poor or faith but affects all relentlessly. The most vulnerable people: the marginalized and the displaced people of our society pay the highest price and are at the highest risk of suffering the devastating effects of COVID-19. We must, therefore, see in the Risen Lord our hope and succour especially to the sick, aged and the most vulnerable in our society as we fight this disease and other vices ravaging the world, our Nation Nigeria, Families, Churches and Individual lives. This renewed hope in the Risen Lord is what our human family needs now more than ever, the experience is true: One World Family.