Sermons

 

SOLEMNITY OF OUR LADY QUEEN PATRONESS OF NIGERIA
The prophet Isaiah tells us of another of his dream. In the second part of the reading he describes a society that is a real paradise. All hatred and hostilities have disappeared, those who hate and killed and their victims are now sitting side by side, the lion and the leopard lie down with the lamb and the gazelle, the child plays with poisonous snakes. This harmony has not been re-established only at animal level, but also between God and humanity. Nobody is doing any harm, the poor and weak are no longer oppressed by injustice, all are harbouring sentiments of love. With this proclamation Isaiah wanted to assure his people that the Lord would establish in the world the peace that reigned in Eden before the sin of Adam.
A question comes to our lips: “When is this prophecy going to be fulfilled?” We find the answer in the first part of the reading of today (1-5) where it tells us of the family of David.
This great king, who lived about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, was the son of Jesse, a man from Bethlehem. His family says the prophet, is like a large tree: Jesse and David are like the roots and trunk, the other kings born from them are its branches and shoots.
God had promised this family an eternal kingdom, but he would one day be forced to cut down this tree because of unfaithfulness. Nevertheless a new shoot would rise from the root, a great king full of the force of the Lord. This king would possess the best qualities of all the members of this family: he would be wise and intelligent like Solomon, strong and powerful like David, he would fear God, that is, he would be obedient to God like the Patriarchs. And above all, he would have a quality that nobody had had before him: he would be just and defend the poor and the oppressed.
Who is the King Isaiah speaks of? The Promise was never fulfilled before the birth of Jesus who, as we read in the Gospel, is the expected descendant of the family of David.
To these days this prophecy is a message of hope for us as we celebrate our independence today. Even after the birth of Jesus, as we well know, the powerful continue to lord it over and oppress the weak, human rights are denied to many people, hate and violence are present all over the world. The shoot of the family of David has, however, sprung up already, it is developing, it has become a people entrusted with the responsibility of representing in this world the society promised by Isaiah.
Unfortunately, even with in this people, the Church, there is a lot unfaithfulness and the prophecy is far from being fully fulfilled. We would like a world where peace and love reign supreme, freed from all types of hate. We are afraid of giving up our selfishness, our evil hearts that spur us to behave towards the others like lions, leopards and snakes. If we do not accept a change of heart, Jesus cannot come, his kingdom cannot be established; it will never be peaceful for our family, for our community, for our nation for the world.
In the Gospel we heard;
"And Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt" (Mtt 2:14)
As we celebrate the solemnity of our lady queen of Nigeria and our 57th independence as a country, Joseph the husband of Mary is told by an angel in a dream to keep the child and his mother out of harms way by escaping to Egypt. The message must have been totally unexpected, given the fact that the wise men had just departed after having worshipped the new born child and given him some gifts. Joseph could have resisted and argue the fact that it was unbecoming of God to run away from men. If as the angel had announced the child would "save the people from their sins", how could it be that he cannot even save himself? He could have spent the whole night worrying, considering many things, contemplating many other options as well. 
Sometimes we may not easily understand why God allows us to pass through some tough times, why God sometimes changes our plans, why he allow us to experience some hardship, why he allow us to be tormented by illness, why he allow the economy of our country to go into recession? These are the moments when we must sit down and reflect on the daily Cross which Jesus speaks about in Lk 9:23".....if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his Cross daily and follow me". God is not indifferent to all that happens to us. Again St Paul further reminds us that "in everything God works for good with those who love him" Rm 8:28. In every situation in which we might find ourselves, the key thing is to ensure that we do not lose our union with God. For Joseph and Mary God compensated them more than they imagine for hardship they had to endure during their trip to Egypt. This should also be a source of encouragement to every Nigerian leader who at the moment people may be calling him/her all sorts of name simply because is out to ensure that the right thing is done. Our leaders must not relent in their fight against corruption, we are not unaware that there are many who are out to ensure that the government of the day does not succeed in this regard; that as we celebrate the solemnity of our lady queen of Nigeria today's liturgy of the word challenges us to bear all things including insult and opposition that might come our way without bitterness if indeed we are doing things for God. 
Sometimes we may not understand why God allow certain calamities to come our way, in the face of these challenges, all we need is to be faithful to God who knows why it is happening just like Joseph who never doubted but was prompt in carrying out the instructions of God from the angel. God is interested in our suffering and as such will not be indifferent to our hardship. The problem sometimes is that we are aware of what God expects from us but we often postpone it to our own convenient time, Joseph never did that. Today there are agitations from different parts of our country and our leaders who knows what must be done keep on postponing what must be done in other to bring to an end the agitations going on in our country simply because they want to satisfy their selfish political ambitions. The majority of Nigerians are calling for the restructuring and our leaders are saying no to it simply because they are afraid of losing out in the process. As Christians we must also ask ourselves; how faithful are we (you) to your stipulated time for prayers, sacrament of reconciliation when you fall into sin? 
Today as we celebrate our independence anniversary, may we also know that the greatest independence is total dependence on God in whatever situation of life we May find ourselves as did Mary and Joseph, not depending on human strength. 
May our mother Mary, queen and patroness of Nigeria teach us to depend on God as she did from the very moment of her FIAT to God's request.
Happy 57th Independence Anniversary Nigeria.

 

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