Peace, Joy and Love

In his last Christmas in office, President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians not to lose sight of the symbiotic relationship between Christmas and hope. His admonition will serve us today in Nigeria given the difficulty in building a true nation bound together in mutual trust, love, and fraternity. “Many of us look forward to this festive season as a time to travel, share gifts, spend quality time with family and friends, attend special carols and events, and generally relive the good moments of the year. In whatever circumstances we find ourselves, Christmas is a period when we come together to rejoice and set aside our differences,” said the president, who touched on the essence of Christmas as we move towards the crucial February 2023 general election. “For me and my family, this year’s celebration is unique. It is my last as your elected President. Twenty-two weeks from now, this administration will handover to another.”

Beyond the decoration of streets and houses, exchange of gifts and singing of carols, this Christmas is a good time for those in authorities in our country to begin finding lasting solutions to the existential challenges that seem to overwhelm us. And as the president has counselled, it is also important for men and women of goodwill to begin building bridges of tolerance and understanding across the troubled waters of religious and political differences. There is indeed no better time than now to eschew hatred, rancour, greed, and avarice while building an ethic of human solidarity aimed at promoting the common good.

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 of Judea. 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. Meanwhile, the celebration of Christmas has acquired a special tone this year owing to the socio-economic challenges the nation is going through and the impact on citizens. 

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. Therefore, the privileged of our society must consider the fact there are many for whom this season is just anoth

er reminder of their woes.  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. And for the rest of us, Christmastime enjoins caring for our neighbours and underlines the importance of the family institution. It affords wives, husbands, and children the opportunity of reuniting and sharing warmth and love. 

In his address to the Roman Curia for the exchange of Christmas greetings last Thursday, Pope Francis touched on the virtue of forgiveness which means “always giving others a second chance…God does this with every one of us; he keeps forgiving us; he keeps putting us back on our feet; he always gives us another chance. We ought to do the same.” For every war to end, according to Pope Francis, “forgiveness is required. Otherwise, justice becomes vengeance, and love is seen only as a form of weakness.”

The message of Christmas is simple: Times indeed may be tough, but our optimism must remain high that no matter the circumstances we face either as individuals or as a nation, all will be well. That is the promise that this season offers.

We wish all our readers a joyful and peaceful Christmas. 

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