Advertisement

Focus on Jesus, Positive Action, Reconciliation: Nigerian Bishop in Christmas Message

Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria's Oyo Diocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Bishop in Nigeria has highlighted the essential aspects of Christmas, underscoring the need for Christians to focus on the person of Jesus Christ, engage in more “good action” than mere talk, make sacrifices “for others’ sake”, and reconciliation both with God and others.

In his Christmas Message shared with ACI Africa Thursday, December 23, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo also reflects about recipients of Christmas gifts saying attention needs to go to “the marginalized, the weak and the needy” as was the case at the birth of Jesus Christ when “the baby in the manger” was the recipient of gifts. 

“Please celebrate Christmas knowing that it is about Jesus Christ the saviour and nobody else!” Bishop Badejo says, and adds, “Consider even the spelling, Christ-mas! Anything done at this season must relate to Christ, to be authentic.”

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo in Nigeria further regrets the fact that “there are too many people today who jettison the place of Jesus Christ in the season. They struggle to put Father Christmas, their business, their picnic, their media, their program, their party, their music, their excursion, meeting and other things at the center of the season.”

Those who overlook the place of Jesus Christ during Christmas, Bishop Badejo says, are wrong and need to be ignored. 

Advertisement

“Don’t be like the hireling, still trying to steal the vine from the owner (Mt. 21:33-41). Celebrate because Christ is born, not because father Christmas, gifts or picnics have come,” the Nigerian Bishop says in his Christmas Message titled, “AT CHRISTMAS, LESS TALK: MORE ACTION.”

He goes on to emphasize the need to engage in positive action at Christmas saying, “We really have had more than enough talk about Christmas. How come our world is still so wounded? So much talk about love, peace, joy, justice, sharing. We sing and party so well. Yet we miss justice, love, sharing joy, forgiveness among us.”

“At Christmas God showed his love to the world, took action and sent Jesus Christ to save (Jn 3:16). The angel took action by announcing his birth and helped the shepherds to find the baby (Lk 2: 9-12). The shepherds acted and went in a hurry to see him (Lk 2:15-18),” Bishop Badejo says.

He appeals for good deeds saying, “Christmas is time now for positive action. More action, less talk!”

“I call on everybody from top to bottom, politicians and businessmen, civil servants and traders, artisans and professionals, priests and people, young and old to do more good acts than ‘talk good talk’ at this Christmas, the Local Ordinary of Oyo Diocese who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) says.

More in Africa

The media too needs to “focus more on positive actors than on sweet speakers,” he says, and adds, “Jesus said ‘It is not anyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ who will enter the kingdom of heaven but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.’”

Christmas is about making sacrifices for the sake of others, Bishop Badejo says, and urges Christians to make sacrifices of self, time, resources, and love.

“God took the love initiative and gave up his only son. Without that, there can be no Christmas. Mary gave up her time and status and went to visit Elizabeth (Lk. 1: 39ff). Joseph, because of Jesus, took positive action, gave up all his livelihood and took him to Egypt to protect the child from evil (Matt 2:13ff),” he says.

The Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Oyo Diocese since November 2009 further says, “Jesus himself gave up his life for our salvation. All who have the spirit of Christmas must get right up and give up something for the sake of others, a better life, a better family, a better church, society and a better world.”

“Yes, we need less Christmas messages and more Christmas action,” he reiterates and illustrates, “Call Davido, the Nigerian pop singer, ‘a Christmas ambassador’ and I would agree with you. He raised 251 million naira (over 500,000 US dollars) from his admirers and gave it all away to orphanages all over Nigeria. What a Christmas gesture! All such spirit mirrors the Christmas spirit.”

Advertisement

The gesture by Davido, the Nigerian Prelate who has been described as a “singing Bishop” says, “is the opposite of the current trend whereby everybody wants everything for themselves in a tragic and corrosive race of entitlement which is destroying our family, society and nation. Jesus came to give up his life. At this Christmas, what are you giving up?”

He advocates for reconciliation both with God and with others during Christmas saying, “At Christmas, work for reconciliation. Jesus came to reconcile man to God, and with each other, so that man can enjoy peace and freedom from sin and strife. That is the reason for Christmas.”

“Lest we forget, at the birth of Jesus gifts were given to the baby in the manger, representing the marginalized, the weak and the needy, not to the kings, priests, the rich, the powerful, the comfortable,” Bishop Badejo says, and poses, “Where do your gifts go? Who is receiving your gifts at Christmas?”

The Catholic Bishop who was appointed a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication on December 3 emphasizes the need for all Christmas gifts to point to the person of Jesus Christ.

“Father Christmas, gifts, lights, decorations, cards, parties, food, etc, if they don’t point to Christ are meaningless, empty and false. Jesus is the reason for the season. Whether it is written as Christmas, Xmas or C-Mass, it is for Christ,” Bishop Badejo says in his Christmas Message shared with ACI Africa December 23.

(Story continues below)