From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Abeokuta, Most Rev (Dr) Peter Olukayode Odetoyinbo, has called on Nigerians to be full of hope and remain positive in the face of national challenges.
He encouraged every citizen to be an instrument of peace.
Bishop Odetoyinbo, who made the call in his 2020 Christmas message, said:
‘We believe that our present challenges as a nation do not have the last word about us. Our faith in God’s providence encourages us that in all of these conflicts, we come triumphantly victorious by the power of him who loved us.
‘Let us be full of hope and remain positive about the issues that confront us as a nation.
‘Each one is encouraged to be an instrument of peace. One does not have to be a Christian to do this but must be a God-fearing individual who understands the tenets of peace, reconciliation and nation-building.
‘If we acknowledge Him and journey with Him, He has promised to be with us through every challenge and with Him, we have nothing to fear.’
According to the Bishop, Christmas reminds the people of the love of God for mankind when He sent His Jesus Christ to redeem humanity and rescue mankind from sins.
He noted that ‘the message of peace is fundamental to the birth of Christ. Christ the Prince of Peace came to establish peace and joy in our world, mend broken relationships and reconcile us with God.
‘Christmas is a period of joy, for those who sit in darkness have seen a Great Light and Jesus is that Light that cannot be quenched. Our hope is in that Light amidst the fears of the ember months.
‘The present predicaments of our nation could put our faith to the test and make us begin to doubt the realization of peace with the rising cases of poverty, corruption, insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, headers/farmers clashes, youth unemployment, and the irresponsive attitudes of our leaders and other realities that stare us in the face.
‘Let us not forget that God is in control, for Jesus is born, our King and Savior is here to save us. He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace who has come to offer us peace and reconcile us with God and one another. For His name is Emmanuel, God with us.
‘The power of the Christian is that he/she belongs to Christ. Therefore, let us not allow the fear and tension created by men to discourage us because God will not abandon us.
‘The year 2020 has been a tough one for all of us with the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant economic recession. Let us nevertheless be assured that even though we walk through darkness, Christ remains the shining Star and we must search and find Him like the Magi.
‘Therefore, we rely on the abiding presence of Emmanuel to lead us into the year 2021 with courage and hope and take us through it,’ the Catholic Bishop stated.