As Nigerians warm up for Easter 2021…

“Many a cross we bear is of our own manufacture; we made it by our sins. But the cross which the Savior carried was not His, but ours. One beam in contradiction to another beam was the symbol of our will in contradiction to His own. If Innocence itself took a Cross, then how shall we who are guilty complain against it?” -Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

It has been six weeks of preparation for the solemn feast of the Lord’s resurrection popularly called Easter. It is all climaxing this week. Yet, the country’s atmosphere is not looking ‘Easterish’ partly because of the prevailing unfriendly economic reality and partly due to the bemired sociopolitical cloud that hovers around us.

The government has made Nigerians have less need to visit Holy Lands on pilgrimage, especially this Lent and Easter seasons. How can one desire pilgrimage trips again when our country is gradually becoming Golgotha – a place of skull itself (Mk.15:22). Replicas of agonizing faces, mirroring that of a suffering Messiah is common sight in every street and home (Is. 53:7). Harrowing spate of extrajudicial killings and traumatizing cases of abductions dot our newlines.

This year’s lent pointed to a Good Friday in which everything around us paints gory imagery of Calvary pains of Christ. For instance, the vacant purses readily made us experience the poverty of Christ who had no place to lay his head, and had to ‘borrow’ everything including the donkey he rode on, into Jerusalem and even the tomb he was buried in (Matt. 8:20, Mk. 11:11, Jn. 19:41-42).

Secondly the perpetual power failure brings to mind the total eclipse that darkened the world for three hours when the Lord gave up the ghost (Lk. 23:44-46). It replays in our psyche and awakens in our memory the nightly darkness under which cover, so many evils were perpetrated in the build-up to the Lord’s Passion.(Jn. 13:30).

Thirdly, the prevailing empty stomachs tell us how the Lord felt after fasting for forty days; and more still the cry of “I am thirsty” from the height of the cross (Jn.19:28).

With recurrent power outage, we are subjected to hellish heat and sweating, which is becoming a foretaste of the Gethsemane heat in which Christ excreted blood (Lk. 22:44).

The harsh economic atmosphere in the country parallels the unstable state of the ancient Jewish polity under Pontius Pilate, influenced by the tyranny of their colonial Roman authority, headed by Caesar.

But shall we allow these man-made hardships weigh us down from appreciating the light of the Lord’s resurrection and celebrating the grace of Easter?

The answer is No!

Remember the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn. Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning. However, we should be tenacious in our resolve to engender the new dawn ahead of 2023. Much as we recite the ejaculatory prayer for Nigeria in distress, we must be resolute in our demands for a better leadership in the country by voting and ensuring our votes count.

Never you despair. Raise your head and see that your salvation is near. Your upliftment is by the corner. The day of your breakthrough is at hand. Remember, the God of Good Friday is also the Lord of Easter Sunday. From here, if you listen well, you can hear the voice of the Man of Calvary crying “it is finished!” “it is finished,” your ugly condition is finished in Jesus Name! (Jn. 19:30).

Meanwhile, don’t take your mind off the ladder that leads to the good news. Many blessings are hanging on a silken cord, and only the sharp edges of repentance, prayer and patience can cut them. Let’s hold fast these virtues.

This is how Christ redeemed us:  Suppose a golden chalice is stolen from an altar and beaten into a large ashtray.  Before that gold can be returned to the altar, it must be thrown into a fire, where the dross is burned away; then the chalice must be recast, and finally blessed and restored to its holy use. 

Sinful man is like that chalice which was delivered over to profane uses. He lost his Godlike resemblance and his high destiny as a child of God. So our blessed Lord took unto Himself a human nature, making it stand for all of us, plunged it into the fires of Calvary to have the dross of sin burned and purged away. Then, by rising from the dead, He became the new head of the new humanity, according to which we are all to be patterned.

The cross reveals that unless there is a Good Friday in our lives, there will never be an Easter Sunday. Unless there is a crown of thorns, there will never be the halo of light.  Unless there is the scourged body, there will never be a glorified one. Death to the lower self is the condition for resurrection to the higher self.

So be steadfast in your faith. Be ready to sing the victory song.

God’s mercy endureth forever. He condescended so low to those whose debts He haS pardoned to become a debtor Himself by His promises.

Now, the only debt we owe is to ourselves. The only price left is for us to try like Apostle Paul, “to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, to associate with His suffering and participate in His death” (Phil 3:10).

The Master Himself has set the pace and opened the fountain, as it where, of salvation. Ours is only to follow His footsteps till we bath in that fountain which washes off stains, even of the least venial sin and makes us eschatologically clean for beatific visions, imperfectly here at Easter feasts and perfectly hereafter in the Heavenly feast of resurrection (Rev. 19:9).

Happy Easter in advance.

Shalom!
Ogechukwu writes via [email protected]

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