BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu

Our opening prayer at mass this morning summarizes our reflection today. In it, we prayed: “O God, who give us the joy of honouring Our Lady, Queen of Nigeria, as mother of divine hope and communion, grant that, with the help of her intercession, we may always work for peace and reconciliation…”

In this prayer, we recognized Mary as the Mother of Divine Hope. What is hope? What does it mean to hope in a country like ours? Dear friends, on this day of our independence, hope means telling ourselves the truth – that no matter how gloomy things may be right now, God is still on our side and God who turned water into wine can still turn our fortunes around in this country.

In Nigeria, October First is our independence day; a day that marked our freedom from British Colonial Rule, a day the whole world recognised us and gave us that respect as a country capable of governing ourselves and determining our future. That was fifty seven years ago.

Today ought to be mini-Christmas of some sorts; we should all be wearing our best dresses and be going about distributing rice and stew to people around, I mean, our streets, our social centres, parks and so on ought to be bubbling with funfair but then, look around and it doesn’t seem as if we are even aware that today is our independence day. Indeed, many question if Nigeria ever got any independence at all in the first place or whether Nigerians cherish the fact that they are actually a country.

In the midst of all the challenges we face as a nation today, we can only hang on to HOPE for a better country and as Christians, knowing that we have the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God as our principal patron, our hope is not a vain hope. If truly she is our Mother and she so helped the couple at the wedding feast at Cana when they ran out of wine, we know that she would help us because in Nigeria today, we have not only ran out wine, we have ran out of water while the seven jars have been declared missing by EFCC!

This is why on the 12th to 14th of this month, all the Bishops in Nigeria will gather in Benin City to re-consecrate Nigeria as a whole to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is an act of faith. We believe in the power of prayers and we have a strong hope that with God on our side through Mary’s persuasion, things would begin to change for Nigeria. This is our hope.

It is in the light of this hope that our first reading today is taken from a portion of Isaiah that speaks of a time when things would be well. It says: “On that day, there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse…” Re-reading this passage in Nigerian terms, it would appear like this: “On that day, there shall come forth by Divine Appointment, a leader, a president, and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, a spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord… He shall not steal our money… he shall not take sides on issues… he shall decide with equity for the meek… he shall not tell us lies… righteousness shall be the belt of his waist…”

In fact, when this God appointed leader comes, the Psalmist sings: “In his days, shall justice flourish and great peace for ever.” He shall save the needy when they cry, the poor, and those who are helpless, he will not send Military men after innocent citizens, he will not go on months of medical tourism while our hospitals have become dignified mortuaries, he will not send his children to school abroad while our universities lie in shambles.

This is our hope, this is why we call on our Mother Mary to beg God to give us such a leader. A leader who will bring peace like Jesus Christ who as our second reading says, destroyed the hostility among men through the Cross. We need a leader who will not encourage division through one-sided political appointments whereby key offices are given to persons not because of what they are capable of doing but simply because of where they come from.

We are so assured that things will be well for this country Nigeria as we ask Mary’s intercession. Apart from the fact that she quickly intervened at the wedding feast at Cana, Mary is a woman who understands the meaning of hardship. Our Gospel passage today tells us how Joseph had to wake Mary up in the middle of the night just few days after she delivered the baby Jesus to run to Egypt. Mind you, Mary was already stressed up from the journey they embarked upon to take a census, they had nowhere to stay other than a manger where animals were kept and she gave birth without the help of midwives or professional medical care.

Like Mary, thousands of women in Nigeria today are forced to deliver their babies at home without even the slightest medical care and those who manage to go the hospital are faced with the constant nightmare of doctors going on strike every now and then. I believe Mary can perfectly sympathize with our situation. I believe we do not call her in vain. I believe Nigeria would be great again with her help.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may your mother intercede for us. Amen.

Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you.
Feast of Our Lady Queen of Nigeria. October 1st. Bible Study: Isaiah 11:1-10, Ephesians 2:13-22 and Matthew 2:13-15.19-23).


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