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Nigerian Archbishop Invokes Holy Spirit on Country “soaked by blood of innocent victims”

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama with Priests of Nigeria's Archdiocese of Abuja/ Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja

The most “fervent” prayer of the people of God in Nigeria is that the Holy Spirit cleanses the land that continues to witness the spilling of blood of innocent people at the hand of terrorists, the Local Ordinary of Abuja Archdiocese has said.

In his homily during the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, May 23, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama said that in Nigeria, the biggest prayer is that the people of God enjoy some “unity in their diversity.”

“Our fervent prayer today is, Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Nigerians that we may achieve sincere understanding and unity, to be sanctified and consecrated in the truth,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “We ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse our land soaked by the blood of innocent victims spilled by terrorists, kidnappers and anti-social citizens. May the Lord grant them eternal rest and reward.”

The Nigerian Archbishop said that the feast of Pentecost is the plan of Jesus for the people to achieve “unity in their diversity.”

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“Pentecost was said to be a ‘Unity Feast’; for it reversed the disaster of Babel that divided the human family but now opened racial and linguistic borders,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

“By this feast today, Jesus renews our baptismal and confirmation mandate with the Holy Spirit to enable us go into our world to bring peace, healing, reconciliation, unity, joy, love and salvation; not war, not violence, not immorality and not corruption,” the Archbishop of Abuja said, and adding that Jesus “wants us to achieve unity in our diversity.”

The Nigerian Archbishop called upon the people of God in the West African country that is riddled with attacks especially those that target Christians to endure their suffering, saying that it is the true call of Christian discipleship.

“Jesus did not want to create the illusion that being His disciples would spare us the trials and tribulations of our time as we find ourselves in our country today,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He made reference to the Biblical Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus told his disciples that people would “revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you.”

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“In John 15 Jesus says the world will hate you without a cause and those who kill you will think they are doing something noble,” the Archbishop of Abuja said, and added, “Jesus reminded we believers that we will be scattered but the consolation is that we have the Advocate, the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, to help us remain steadfast.”

He said that through accepting the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Nigerians would change their ways and end insecurity and corruption that continues to bedevil the country.

“A journalist with the Voice of Nigeria asked me last Sunday what we can do about the unending insecurity and corruption and how the Holy Spirit will help us at Pentecost. I responded that the Spirit transforms, edifies, guides and teaches, as long as we open the doors of our hearts to let God in, and to embrace positive and transforming change,” the Archbishop shared, and added, “God does not force change on us. Our values must change for the better.”

He highlighted some cases of corruption in the West African country saying, “Today, it is easy to swear an affidavit to change one’s age, whether for a football career, NYSC purposes, or for getting a job.”

“Our abusive language and lack of respect for one another especially in the social media is to say the least, un-African,” Archbishop Kaigama said, and added, “White lies are told as if they don’t matter. Someone is telephoning from the back of his house but says he is just arriving in Lagos!”

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The Archbishop expressed regret that the country is rapidly losing the value of human life, a situation he said was evidenced by the frequent kidnappings and killings of servants of God.

He specifically pointed out the attack on St. Vincent Ferrer’s Catholic Church within Nigeria’s Diocese of Sokoto and the gruesome murder of a young and newly appointed Parish Priest, Fr. Alphonsus Bello and the kidnapping of the elderly Fr. Joe Keke.

“Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will lead all of us in Nigeria to positive interior change and transformation,” the Archbishop of Abuja said.

He added, “We adhere a lot to religious rules, customs, traditions and dwell so much on religious externalities, but lack the practice of religion that should liberate us Nigerian Christians and Muslims from our religious and ethnic prejudices that have held us in severe bondage and retarded us from genuine growth and development.”