Obey God to Save Nigeria from “fate of Sodom and Gomorrah”,
True and “non-hypocritical” obedience to God’s commandments is the only thing that will save Nigeria from what befell the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, an Archbishop in the West African nation said in his Sunday, March 7 homily.
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama who was presiding over Holy Eucharist at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral of Abuja Archdiocese reflected on the practical implications of the commandments on people’s relationship with God and with one another. He said that pretense in religion cannot save the people from the wrath of God.
“What can save Nigeria from the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah is the non-hypocritical obedience to God’s commandments; not the going about in long robes, erecting conspicuous places of worship at strategic places, or shouting the loudest about God and religion,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
He added, “There must be a ‘spiritual sanitation’ of the hearts of all Nigerians so that justice and peace can flow from our hearts.”
Reflecting on the first reading of the third Sunday of Lent about the Commandments that Moses received from God at Mount Sinai, the Nigerian Archbishop observed that it is law that holds the society together.
“Without laws, we risk ending up as a chaotic society,” the 62-year-old Archbishop said, and added, “We obey human laws such as traffic laws, security laws such as curfew but sometimes we feel that divine laws tamper with our personal freedom.”
He expressed regret that many people desire to be free to use their bodies as they like, without adhering to God’s commandments.
Some, he went on to say, want to use their freedom to deprive others of their freedom. They do this in various ways, including taking the lives of unborn children and killing in the name of politics, religion and ethnicity, he said.
According to the Local Ordinary of Abuja, the evils that continue to bedevil Africa’s most populous nation would not be happening if Nigerians obeyed the laws of their respective religions.
“If we were observing sincerely the laws of our two main religions in Nigeria, Islam and Christianity, about not stealing, corruption will be long gone and poverty will not be a problem because our human and natural resources will be appropriately utilized,” he said.
The Archbishop explained, “If we pay attention to the injunction not to kill, bandits, kidnappers and religious extremists will not be violating people’s innate human dignity while calling on the name of God. We would not have had the Chibok, Kagara and the Jangede abduction of innocent school children. Similarly, the unnecessary tension between Muslims and Christians; Ibos, Tiv, Yoruba, tribes of Southern Kaduna et al, and Fulani who practise the ‘Abrahamic religions’ will not arise.”
Archbishop Kaigama highlighted major kidnappings in the country including those in which Christian girls were targeted, saying that the abductions would not have happened if everyone adhered to God’s commandments.
In his Sunday homily, the Archbishop of Abuja condemned leaders of the country who he said use religion to pledge to serve the people but end up not fulfilling their promises.
“When public officials take oaths of office, with their hand on the Bible or the Koran, they promise to serve selflessly, but many soon commit very unpatriotic acts and corruptly rob the poor, polarize and factionalize our people based on religious, ethnic or economic interests,” he said.
Making reference to the Sunday Gospel reading in which Jesus cleanses the temple and cautions against turning the place of worship into a place of business, Archbishop Kaigama said the incident reported in the Gospel according to John indicates the worshippers’ corrupted dispositions of mind, body and conscience.
The same, the Nigerian Archbishop remarked, can be observed in how religion has been “commercialized.”
“Today, some persons commercialize or politicize religion and are little concerned about forming their adherents to have a pure heart and a clean conscience,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
He added in reference to the Sunday Gospel reading, “The dramatic cleansing by Jesus is meant to teach us about true worship and holiness; to remind us that we are living temples of the Holy Spirit and we must purify our hearts of those vices that pitch us against God, our neighbours and ourselves.”
He further said that what Jesus wanted, and still wants today, is for the church to remain “a house of prayer for all peoples and for us to worship God in spirit and truth.”
Jesus wants the kind of worship marked by integrity, justice, compassion and sacrificial service of others, the Archbishop said March 7, adding that a place of worship is not a business centre or where to plot evil against those who are of a different religious affiliation.
A place of prayer, he reiterated, should be a true dwelling place for God.
He said that Jesus’ “righteous anger” of whipping and driving out the money changers and traders from the temple calls God’s people to desist from spiritual laxity, social injustice and extortions of helpless citizens.
“We exhibit great piety in our places of worship but in daily life promote corruption, social injustice, and allow bloodshed, violence and other atrocities,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Archbishop has invited his compatriots to spiritually join Pope Francis who he refers to as a pilgrim of peace, in his just concluded visit to Iraq.
Archbishop Kaigama reiterated the Holy Father’s address to the Iraqi President Barham Salih, speaking of “an end to acts of violence and extremism, factions and intolerance”, saying that this message is befitting the current state of Nigeria.
“This sounds like the Holy Father was speaking to Nigerians too,” the Archbishop said, and added in his invitation to the people of God in the country to journey with the Holy Father, “A word is enough for the wise.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa