Sacrifice, service and salvation

Posted by Most Rev. Hilary Paul Odili Okeke | 31 March 2013 | 5,134 times

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At Easter, we solemnly celebrate our liberation and salvation by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of God became a human being to save the human family from slavery to the devil and evil forces. St. Paul using an ancient Christian hymn sums up the mystery of Christ, “who being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross...” (Philippians 2:6-8). His self-emptying led to the ignominy of the cross. He suffered for us. He gave up his life in atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. The Son of Man, Jesus Christ, came not to be served but to serve and give his life in ransom for many (see Mark 10:45).

The sacrifice and service of Jesus Christ brought him to the glorious resurrection and exaltation which St. Paul brings out in the ancient hymn: “And for this God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names; so that all beings in the heavens, on earth find in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). The sacrifice of the cross has brought not only salvation to the world but also glory to the Victim, our Lord Jesus Christ!

St. Paul urges us: “Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:6). He has also advised us: “Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and mature” (Romans 12:2). The behaviour of the contemporary world is described by St. John – “disorderly bodily desires, disordered, desires of the eyes, pride in possessions ... And the world, with its disordered desires, is passing away” (1 John 2:16,17). It is not only passing away but it breeds greed, corruption, oppression, highhandedness, selfishness, morbid egotism and even egotheism – deification of self! Jesus Christ said: “We know that among the gentiles those they call rulers lord it over them, and their great men do make their authority felt” (Mark 10:42).

Is this not our experience with the exercise of authority in Nigeria? Some people bribe themselves into offices, rig elections and smuggle themselves into positions of authority. Do you ever think that such persons have any intention of using the authority to serve the community or people? Indeed, the case is a vicious circle of corruption, corrupting and yet corruption! Money used to buy people in the process of getting public offices is recovered from the opportunities of the office. Is it any surprise that political and other offices, including offices in clubs, church societies, unions are opportunities and means to self-aggrandizement, self-serving activities, ego-trips and megalomania? And how can Nigeria attain the height destined for it by God who endowed Nigeria with rich human and material resources? Most Nigerians watch helplessly as trillions of Naira are dissipated at every level by those who should be there to serve and not be served.
It should not be so! The revolution advocated by Jesus Christ is the way out and way forward. Everybody is talking about transformation and transformation agenda! Let us see the transformation in the mental attitude of those in authority and those aspiring to leadership positions in our society. Let us see it in the humility and selflessness, in the frugality in the use of public funds and resources for personal interest, in the trimming down of salaries, allowances and perquisites of office of the rulers, in the prioritization of common good over personal interest and in the enthronement of service over exploitation and embezzlement of public resources. Nigeria bleeds. Nigeria is sacrificed at the altar of greed, egotism and selfishness! Nigeria needs salvation!

Jesus Christ is the supreme model of leadership! Let all make their minds that of Jesus Christ! Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State is making serious impact on the State by his avowed and experienced commitment to the simultaneous development of every sector of life in Anambra State. We never had it so good in Anambra State in the areas of education, health, social services, roads etc, showing that with sacrifice, simplicity, frugality and service, a lot can be done to change the lot of the people of our country. We pray that God will give us another Governor at least like Mr. Peter Obi if not better than he. The recent election of Pope Francis and the attitude of our new Pope send strong signals to the world that leadership is about simplicity, humility and service. Shall we in Nigeria receive such signals and allow the signals to effect changes in our mentality, in our attitude to public goods and resources, in our perception of power and authority? The death of Professor Chinua Achebe deprives Nigeria of a person who stirs the conscience of Nigerians. This was a man who x-rayed the trouble with Nigeria, a man who was a consistent critic of the hypocrisy of the social set-up in Nigeria where the rich, powerful and influential corrupt Nigerians are honoured by the State! May he rest in the peace which eluded him as he made enormous sacrifices, defying the powers-that-be, to speak the truth to a country filled with deaf and blind people!

Salvation of Nigeria is in our hands! From the poorest to the richest, from the most insignificant Nigerian to the person holding the highest office in the land, there is only one way - the way of sacrifice and service by all for all! I wish all Nigerians the joy of Easter that comes from the supreme sacrifice of a Victim - Jesus Christ!

Most Rev. Hilary Paul Odili Okeke (shown in photo) is Bishop of Nnewi, Anambra State.

Source: News Express

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