We should assist the weak, the hungry and the suffering in our midst
Today’s Easter, an annual Christian festival that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is a historic one. It is the first in living memory being marked in private homes rather than in churches and other places of worship, owing to the restrictions placed on public gatherings to stop the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. It is therefore a season that calls for a deeper reflection on the real essence of human existence. As Pope Francis said recently, “today in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weigh upon our hearts, Jesus says to each of us: Open your heart to my love, you will feel the consolation of God who sustains you.”
Nothing indeed depicts the unusual time that we are in than the closure to the public in Jerusalem, for the first time in centuries, of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—where Christians believe that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. Notwithstanding, the message of the Cross rings ever true. As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, many people across the world are experiencing “fear and uncertainty, as well as trauma, separation, isolation, loss of members or even death in their families or in their church communities”, according to the World Council of Churches. “Yet, despite these traumatic and painful situations, the message of Easter continues to be a joyful one of courage and hope.”
If there is any lesson from the experience of recent weeks, it is that we must erect a framework of human solidarity in order to render assistance to the weak, the hungry and the suffering in our midst. That is the message of Easter which will serve all our people, as we unite to fight the virus that has disrupted our world. With the growing poverty and human misery occasioned by the coronavirus global lockdown, we commend the humanitarian gestures that we have seen from many Nigerians and corporate bodies. The statement these generous donors are making is that the intrinsic worth of the human person takes precedence over every other thing. The donors are saying that we are members of the same human family irrespective of our differences.
The sacrifice, love, mercy and unity that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ exemplified are some of the enduring values of Easter that transcend doctrine and are worthy of emulation by all Nigerians. The mystery of today’s celebration is anchored on the fact that Jesus chose death because that was the penalty to which all in the flesh were liable on account of sin. In taking this path Jesus was able to bring salvation to mankind. As we therefore rejoice in His resurrection, we must also pause and reflect on the sacrifice of the cross. A day such as this also calls for us to rededicate our energy to the promotion of the common good as we seek to build a new society where the health of one is important to all.
Perhaps more than at any period in history, it is important that Nigerians use this season to reflect on things that bind us together rather than on those that divide us. We must use religion not only to strengthen our nationhood but as a vehicle for deepening harmony. Besides, Easter’s enduring message, which is about love, can be transmitted by sharing with the less privileged of our society not only material possessions but also through simple gestures like kind words and sincere smiles. Unfortunately, that is where we fail most miserably. And the tragedy of that failure can be seen in practically all aspect of our national life. But we can, and must rewrite our story.
As the message of a resurrected Jesus Christ continues to give hope, peace and strength to people around the world, we wish all our readers a very happy Easter.