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Nigerian Prelate Calls for Thanksgiving in Country Spared from COVID-19 Wrath

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese.

As COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on economies world over, Nigeria has not been as badly hit as was expected, according to a Catholic Prelate in the West African country who says that the country is experiencing “an expression of God’s benevolence.”

He has called on the people in Africa’s most populous country to offer fervent prayers of supplication and thanksgiving for being spared from the worst effects of the pandemic.

In his Sunday, October 4 homily, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese also noted that the country is experiencing many injustices and an array of “antisocial behavior” despite God’s kindness and called on the people to repent.

“Three days ago, we marked our 60th national independence anniversary. Our land is richly blessed with an abundance of material and human resources and this is no doubt, an expression of God’s benevolence towards us,” said Archbishop Kaigama.

He added, “Even the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world, has not hurt Nigeria as badly as we had feared; not because we live under a virus resistant climate, or possess a superior biological make up or operate better healthcare facilities, but purely out of God’s grace and mercy to us.”

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Relating Nigeria’s situation to the Sunday (October 4) readings about God’s vineyard, bitter grapes and brutal tenants, Archbishop Kaigama said, “In spite of these channels of blessings, we have, in many ways, failed God, producing wild fruits and bitter grapes. A litany of woes and anti-social behaviour can easily be compiled.”

He explained that the imagery of the vineyard in the Sunday readings was an invitation for the people to bloom and as individuals, Church and nation to bear fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

He further said the message in the readings was a caution against spiritual neutrality and a calling “to become fruit-producing Christians from the time the seed of sanctity was planted in us at Baptism and Confirmation.”

“God who planted the seeds is looking for a good harvest,” the Nigerian Prelate said, and posed, “Are we productive?”

The landowner in the Gospel sent his servants to the vineyard to obtain the produce from it, but the tenants beat some servants, tortured others and even killed some, including his son, Archbishop Kaigama recalled the passage from Matthew’s Gospel.

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He observed that the senseless killings and the destruction of innocent lives of citizens in different parts of the west African country is why the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria requested forty days of prayer.

“In fervent supplication and thanksgiving, we lift up our nation, Nigeria, to God. Nigeria should be a brilliant star shining in Africa, but some among us like the wicked tenants allow their ingratitude, infidelity and hostility to darken our image and stagnate our progress,” the 62-year-old Archbishop said.

“Let us take a self-assessment test today,” he said, and added, “Am I a good tenant? Am I a wild grape contributing to violence, bloodshed and oppression? Am I supporting our parish to produce good fruits? Am I a merely Sunday Christian? Have I a missionary spirit? How can I support mission efforts such as the World Mission Sunday and the recently created thirty new Pastoral Areas in our Archdiocese which formally kicks off today?”

He invited the people of God under his care to pray that the Priests who have been assigned to the 30 Pastoral Areas “and the Christian faithful in these mission areas will prove good stewards and produce a good harvest of abundant fruits.”

He went on to remind the faithful about the country’s National Anthem that mentions a people called “to serve with heart and might, one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity”.

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“Unfortunately, today, many of us only think of what we can get from Nigeria, not willing to sacrifice for the common good, but we prefer personal, regional, tribal, religious and partisan political interests,” Archbishop Kaigama observed during his October 4 homily.

He added, “Let us be conscious of the judgment of God on the unfaithful tenants in the Gospel… The Lord reminds us that if we do not repent, He will come and remove our lampstand from its place.”