The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka diocese in Nigeria, Godfrey Onah says that Christians and Nigerians must continue to be joyful at Christmas even though things may be difficult in their lives.
The Bishop who is also the Episcopal Chairperson of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) on social communications said this in his Christmas message titled “Joy to the world, though the times are tough." In the message, Bishop Onah noted that as “Christmas pervades the air, everybody smells it, everybody feels it. The enthusiasm, the preparations, the expectations, and the projects (are such that) no other feast in the year, anywhere in the world has that level of importance and excitement.”
He explains that the birth of Christ, the incarnation is an eruption of God in human history. Underscoring the many challenges that Nigerians are facing amidst the many failed promises of Nigerian governments to alleviate their problems, Bishop Onah said that, “Christ is the perfect revelation of God’s love, and God’s love is expressed primarily in his mercy that redeems us from sin and misery. That is why we celebrate, and that is why we are happy, and that is why we are joyful,” the Bishop stated.
The Bishop of Nsukka says God does not force his love on human beings.
“Just a few days ago the President of our country General Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2017 annual budget with the usual high figures in their trillions of Naira. To the ordinary Nigerian on the street, those trillions mean absolutely nothing. Those trillions will not alleviate the problems and the sufferings of Nigerians today. Just before the President presented his budget, (someone prayed) and said, may this budget wipe away the tears of all Nigerians. But (we) forget that there are certain things God cannot do: Jesus could not work miracles in his own village because of their lack of faith. God will not force his love on us if we refuse to accept that love.” Bishop Onah said
“For decades Nigerian Bishops, priests, the religious and lay faithful have been praying to God to deliver this country from chaos, anarchy and doom. Year after year, however, our leaders have been portioning large sums of money belonging to all of us and those sums eventually end up in private pockets and private bank accounts.”
He added, “Nothing so far convinces any of us that the trillions mapped out for 2017 will not end the same way that the trillions before it went. The people are suffering, the people are restive, the people are nervous. Many people are doing what they did not do before. Once in a while it now happens that mothers with children and kids are caught stealing food and the police instead of imprisoning them, console them and give them money to go home. I am sure Nigerians will say this is not the change they voted for. But I am also sure that many more people corrupted at the hands of the government will say that, it is always darkest before dawn. It does seem, however, that this darkness is lasting much longer than we expected,” Bishop Onah observed.
Bishop Onah was, however, optimistic that whether, “Things are hot or not, whether the budget will ever bring down the price of rice or not; whether they will (ever) bring down the cost of cement or not; whether they will bring down the price of fuel or not…what we know, however, is that it was not better when God looked from above and saw the misery of His children and sent His son to comfort us and to deliver us from misery. And that is why we say joy to the world even though things are tough. Joy to the world because the Lord knows how Nigerians live today. If anybody understands us, He is the one, and that is why he is telling us “he who is born among us today and whose birth we are celebrating today is Emmanuel (God is with us),” The Bishops explains.