Headline: The Days of Hebrews 3

Posted on: 2016-10-12

The days of woe

Very little is going right for Nigeria at the moment. The whole country is in recession. Federal and state governments are unable to pay salaries and more and more workers are losing their jobs. Domestic and foreign debts are increasing. Even as the Federal government seems to be containing the Boko Haram insurgency, other security problems emerge. Armed robbery, kidnapping, cyber-crimes and ritual killing are on the increase. In the midst of all this the fall of the Nigerian naira is complicating the lives of many people reducing their power to purchase their basic needs. The government itself is having less and less money to spend because vandals continue to destroy oil pipelines which convey oil, the main source of Nigeria’s income. Nigerians are getting increasingly impatient with their leaders who continue to ask the people for more sacrifice and patience without seeming to work fast enough to bring perceived corrupt officials to book and to justice or chart a credible course for the future. Consequently, some people conclude that government just does not have the answer to Nigeria’s woes. These seem to indeed be days of woe and not a few people are beginning to give up because the number of people of all ages committing suicide in the country is growing.

The hope industry

A sweet Russian proverb says that in the kingdom of hope there is no winter. I have always told people that as a catholic priest I work in the hope industry and that whatever the situation may be I have a responsibility to help people to find reason for hope, regardless of their life situation. Apart from the air we breathe, hope is the one ingredient without which the entire humanity cannot survive. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto diocese, participating at a forum last week, put it in a more picturesque way than I when he said: “I am a priest. The major commodity I market is hope, and hope is never in recession”. However the absolute copyright on hope belongs in the Christian message, the Bible; to the psalmist, the prophets and to Jesus who spoke the all-encompassing words in the gospel “Do not let your hearts be troubled…” (Jn. 14: 1). Saint Paul then brought the same message down to the Romans in his spectacular manner. He said: “…let us exalt too in our hardships, understanding that hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops  a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down,…(Rom 5:3-5).

The days of Hebrews 13

At times like this we must exploit the different expressions of hope around us because hope is based on the work of God not of man. Do we not see the signs clearly manifested daily? What signs can be more eloquent that the fact that everything under God’s care alone functions to perfection. The rain, the sun the air, the light of day and the dark of night continue to occur at their due time. That Superior Intelligence is always able to turn things around. I told a youth, so anxious that Nigeria would collapse on him right where he was standing: “This country has a co-pilot that is greater than all of us, put together. He will play his part”, I said to him. These are the days for the uplifting message of the letter to the Hebrews: “So, brothers, be careful, lest some of you come to have an evil and unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. Encourage one another, day by day, as long as it is called today. Let no one become hardened in the deceitful way of sin. We are associated with Christ provided we hold steadfastly to our initial hope till the end” (Heb. 3:12-14).

Moment of redemption

History has shown that moments of great trials can become the dawn of great spiritual renaissance. The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen listed such in the Bible. Israel received her greatest prophets at the periods when she was suffering most. The prodigal son was closest to his greatest joy when he realized that his entire legacy had been squandered. It was only when Peter had labored all night and caught nothing that he was granted the miracle of the large catch. The ways of the Divine are simply incomprehensible and Nigerians too can dispose themselves to it. It is our duty to turn our country’s current political, economic and social “darkness” into the labour room of a newborn polity. We must activate the words of Albert Camus who once affirmed “Where there is no hope, we must invent it”.

Nigeria: a nation in dependence

Summarily, independent Nigeria is still a country in dependence. She is so dependent on the character, capacity, determination and goodwill of her teeming population to heal her of corruption and wean her of lawlessness, nepotism and greed that threaten to destroy her very essence. The citizens of Nigeria need not to be told that only they can rescue their nation by believing in God and in their own capacity to change things. The song of the great Mariah Carey about the hero inside everyone suits that dream perfectly: “There’s a hero, if you look inside your heart…. And then a hero comes along with the strength to carry on. And you cast your fears aside, and you know you can survive. So when you feel like hope is gone. Look inside you and be strong and you’ll finally see the truth, that a hero lies in you”.