He explains, “Values of the kingdom of God transform us and prepare us to make the political kingdom one in which justice, peace and prosperity will reign.”
“Like the Nigerian election, the Lenten period calls us to decision,” he further says, and continues, “Ash Wednesday not only invites us to decide to make the best of the Lenten Season but the season challenges us in the words of Moses: ‘today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster’ (Deut 30:15) or in those of Joshua, ‘today you must make up your minds whom you mean to serve,’ Yahweh who saved you or other gods (Joshua 24:15).”
He further says, “The Lenten period is an invitation to all to choose to serve God who in Jesus Christ, out of love, suffered, died and was raised to life, for us and for our salvation, as we recite in the Creed.”
“If we choose to do this, then we must embrace a life of love for all, commitment to the good of all, especially the poor, the disadvantaged, the lowly and the despised,” he further says.
Cardinal Okpaleke adds, “If we decide to choose life in God, we are called upon to present our hearts to God in prayer to be transformed; to strive at self-conquest so that we become persons of character not easily distracted by selfish desires; and to invest our energy and resources in making life better for everybody.”
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“This will not only lead to individual transformation but also to the transformation of our communities,” he says, noting that it is by “seeking the kingdom of God and its righteousness that we become the kind of persons who can build up a political kingdom of life, love, truth, justice and prosperity for us.”
“As we are marked with the Ash and reminded that dust we are and to dust shall we return, may we realize the great privilege God has given us to contribute in shaping history,” the Nigerian Cardinal says.
The Catholic Church leader who resigned in 2018 following sustained opposition to his Episcopal appointment for Nigeria’s Ahiara Diocese adds, “As we clamor for and decide to vote for vision, competence, character, credibility and track record in the coming election, let us be ready also to aspire and strive to become persons of vision, character, competence who over time will have track records of commitment to the common good.”
“This Lenten season can be the starting point or a milestone to energize us to make more effort,” Cardinal Okpaleke says in his February 20 Lenten Message.
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.