Posted on: 2013-11-17

The Year of Faith Celebration
The specialty of the moment is that Pope Francis has appointed Most Reverend Gabriel Abegunrin, Catholic Bishop of Osogbo to succeed the Archbishop of Ibadan archdiocese Most Reverend Felix Alaba Job who has creditably served in that position for over 42 years. It is prayers answered after Catholics have waited in prayer and faith for an insight into what the future holds for Ibadan Province. Catholics, for about a year now, have been celebrating the Year of Faith declared open by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the Vatican during the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Good News on 11th October 2012. The opening marked the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th year of the publication of the Catholic Catechism. In his Apostolic Letter for the Year of faith entitled \"Porta Fidei\" (Door of Faith) the Pope said that the year among other things, is to engender more authentic witness to the faith. The celebration will end on November 24th 2013. However, rather than end with the Special celebration, faith must be turned into powerful action for liberating souls and society from the encumbrances that obstruct justice, love and peace among peoples. Archbishop Abegunrin has his job well cut out for him!

Faith in Jeopardy
Bu genuine works of faith have diminished among us and society is in jeopardy. Christians, like unbelievers engage in dirty deals, fraudulent acts, immoral conduct and live blatantly sinful lives. No doubt, the land is sick. Parading religious tags, many unjust judges run unholy judiciaries which mortgage the hopes of the people for expediency. Corporate crooks grab national accolades and even spiritual leaders engage in shady alliances. The cry of the poor grows louder. The times are manifestly evil because faith without works brings death. (James 2:)

Great Sailors Are Known in Stormy Waters
Inevitably the query of Jesus Christ echoes in our ears: \"...when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?\" (Lk. 18:8). In daunting times as these in the history of the Church there have been people who by their very life and works, testified to the power faith. These provoked great renewal and reformation in their society. Few people today would doubt that Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Pope John Paul II were great people of faith. They lived at difficult periods of time but by their faith, sacrifice and service, transformed things and made a world of difference. These times we live in challenge us to discover heroes of faith among us.

Common Good Before Self and Sense of Sacrifice
Those who would reform society could never succeed without a sense of sacrifice and selfless service. Jesus highlighted the lesson. \"Anyone who wishes to follow me, let him deny himself, carry his cross and follow me (Matt. 16:2). Francis of Assisi fought the decadent, ostentatious culture of his time by completely stripping himself of all wealth and prestige. His very family disowned him. Martin Luther King preached to combat the segregation and discrimination which oppressed his fellow African Americans. He paid for it with his life. Mother Teresa of Calcutta embraced poverty, simplicity and great generosity of heart to retrieve millions of the poor from the gutters of India. She renounced having a life of her own to become the saint of the gutters. John Paul II travelled grueling distances all over the world to revive the faith. His effort resulted in debilitating illness and he kept at it till he died. All these have become icons of faith which few people can reproach.

We Have Heroes Among Us
Incessant terrorist attacks have made many martyrs in recent times in Nigeria. Many of these chose to die rather than renounce the faith. To them, Jesus gave his reassurance. \"Whosoever shall confess me in the presence of men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. but he that denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God\"(Luke 12 8-9). Many others have rejected unrighteousness at great cost because they know the meaning of the word of the Lord when he asked; \"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul\"(Mark 8:36).

We Need More Heroes of Faith
Yet we need more heroes, people of faith to make sacrifice for our nation We need heroes like Zacchaeus, to renounce evil ways and revamp our society. Those who lead by sacrifice and selfless service are simply too few. We Christians must remember Jesus outcry: \"Not everyone who says to me \'Lord, Lord\', will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my heavenly Father.\" (Matt 7:21). Christian is not just what we are on Sunday in the Church but who we are and what we do on every day of the week. Pope Benedict, in that letter on the Year of Faith challenged Christians not to accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (Matthew 5:13-16). Christian belief is a social responsibility. Admonition to selfless service and sacrifice may not make sense but it surely makes saints. Only saints will pass the ultimate test of the last judgment where all shall be repaid according to their deeds. (Matt 25). Arise, therefore rescue this land, oh heroes of faith! That would be a great way to conclude the Year of Faith celebration.