Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, which makes it one of the most precious days of the year. Yet, Christmas is also what we make of it. Too often we are directed to focusing on the superficial and material aspects of what has become the modern celebration of this revered day. This season, we have a choice to make: we can continue to celebrate the commercial Christmas that has been given us or we can return to the wellspring and the true meaning of this special day.
Be you Christian, Muslim or adherent of any other religious belief with a soul that yearns for peace, compassion and hope, Jesus Christ belongs to all of us. His teachings are universal in application and speak of truths eternal. He gave us so much, yet asked of us so little. He was born in meagre circumstance, yet rose to change the world for the better and to teach us all a better way.
This Christmas, yes, let us acknowledge his birth but let’s give that acknowledgement its fullest meaning by recognizing how Jesus lived and what he lived for. He reached out to all. Jesus fed the poor and healed the sick. He spread compassion and charity and preached love and justice. There are no finer aims than these and we can do no better than to do all we can to follow his examples. While we can never achieve his perfection, we can strive to do as he instructed.
At this moment, it is time for all Nigerians, Christians and non-Christians alike, to set aside the artificial differences that too often divide us and pit brother against brother, neighbour against neighbour. We must dedicate ourselves to focusing on our common humanity because we all seek much the same thing for ourselves and loved ones. We all eat, sleep, love, worry, lament, cry, laugh, smile, dream and hope. Yes, our names and religious beliefs differ; some go to church, some to mosque. Some to other places of worship; some, perhaps not at all. Yet, we all seek a better world and a better Nigeria.
Thus, may we all embrace and spread the gospel of love, tolerance and forgiveness this season and into the New Year. We must commit ourselves to peace and unity. Let us eschew all bitterness and bigotry. The challenges that face the country are difficult ones. But we keep up the hope. We must learn from the example of Jesus who faced and overcame the greatest evil. We also can overcome what now faces us, and do so in a manner that elevates the nations to become its better self. We can do so in a way that, how we overcome, becomes an example and a beacon to other nations. This is what Jesus would want of us. This is what we must do!
We must not lament our circumstance. Instead, we must unite to overcome them. We must support and complement government’s efforts to stimulate the economy and put down the recession. We pray for peace throughout the land and support President Muhammadu Buhari in his determined strategy to fully break the terrorism of Boko Haram. We pray for the men in uniform who risk their lives to keep us safe and to end this scourge on the nation. I commend our troops battling the terrorists. I thank them again for their courage and bravery. We pray for those who have been dispossessed of their houses and home by the evil of these terrorists and pray that, in the New Year, they all will be able to return home and to begin their lives anew.
Yet, we must do more than pray. We all have something to give, something to contribute to the greater good. As Jesus gave of himself that we may live better, we must give of ourselves that others around us may have a better life and that this nation may breathe a new air of prosperity and hope. This is how we best celebrate Christmas by styling our words and actions, our very lives, on the life of the man after whom this day is named. There is no better gift that we can render and no greater profit that can be derived.
I wish you all a most loving and benevolent Christmas.
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