MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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We will overcome our challenges

The celebration of Christmas acquires a special tone this year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed the lives of almost two million people across the world and has rendered the economies of many countries prostrate. Indeed, given all that we have been through this year as individuals and as a nation, this Christmas should compel deep reflection by many Nigerians. But amid the gloom, Pope Francis has appealed to all not to lose hope while urging Christians to recall the true meaning of Christmas — the birth of Jesus — and lend a hand to the needy and the poor in society. No pandemic or crisis, he added, can extinguish love for our neighbours in a message that will serve true followers of Christ at this season.

In specific terms, this season is a reminder of that historical event which took place more than 2000 years ago, when Christ was born in the relatively humble town of Bethlehem. That birth, as well as the mission of salvation connected with it, was at once a promise of redemption from spiritual death, a declaration of an end to the reign of darkness and a call to mankind to embrace the light of God. Besides, Christ, after whom Christians ought to model themselves, was an embodiment of humility and service to others–enduring virtues that are in short supply in the world we live in today.

As we therefore mark Christmas, the privileged in our society must take into account the fact there are many for whom this season is just another reminder of their woes. In our country today, the plight of the under-privileged is steadily worsening and many go to bed with less than a survival diet. The unemployment crisis has created a lost generation of graduates who cannot find jobs. Many of them are exasperated. Public officials at all levels should therefore pay serious attention to the challenge of those who cannot celebrate this season because they have no means to do so.

This Christmas once again affords our leaders the opportunity for sober reflection on what they must do to make a difference. If Jesus Christ came to serve and not to be served, our leaders should learn to bring light to the dark land; hope to the hopeless; justice to the oppressed and integrity to the wasteland. On the spiritual front, Christmas gives the believer a unique opportunity to re-examine himself/herself. Unfortunately, the death on the cross, which is an invitation to put the seal on one’s conviction at all times, is now replaced by a Christianity that seems eager to dispense with the cross in pursuit of wealth and personal pleasure, most often at the expense of the larger society.

To re-live the exemplary virtues that featured at the first Christmas, we must truly love our fellow human beings and that must reflect in our service. This is a lesson that will serve us today given the difficulty most Nigerians experience. We must eschew hatred, rancour, greed and avarice. We must build an ethic of human solidarity aimed at promoting the common good and the welfare of fellow men and women.

Finally, Christmastime is a season of joy. It is a period for family to stay together. It is a time to regain our laughter and sense of humour. And it is a period we must all share. The ultimate lesson is that while life may sometimes be cruel, our optimism must never wane. The life of Christ to whom this season is dedicated is a demonstration that no odds are too high to surmount. So as individuals and as a nation, we must hold on to the hope that we will overcome our challenges.

We wish all our readers a joyful and peaceful Christmas.