The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins has said that the uncanny events of the past few weeks occasioned by the ravaging COVID-19 virus makes it imperative for Nigerians to seek the face of God more than never before in the history of the nation.
According to him, only the merciful intervention of God as exemplified by Jesus Christ who died for the salvation of mankind on the Cross can deliver the country from being devastated by the virus. As much as much as we, collectively and individually, must make concerted efforts to deal with the issues arising from the pandemic, it is nothing but the hand of God that can grant us the victory that we need over it.
In his 2020 Easter message, signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev Fr Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Martins noted that the peculiar nature of the virus and the circumstance surrounding the lockdown order directed by the state and federal governments along with the timing of the Easter celebration, strikes an uncanny parallel with the circumstances of the people of Israel celebrating the feast of Passover in the middle of a plague and death that was ravaging the land of Egypt before their eventual deliverance from the slavery in Egypt. Of course, there is no Egyptian or Israelite here but just a people suffering from a plague from which they will be delivered by the mighty hands of the Lord as demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus, the Lamb of God on Easter Sunday.
He said that notwithstanding the different explanations being bandied around as explanation of the nature of the virus, this season offers mankind an opportunity to repent of how we have exploited the earth’s gifts in careless and unsustainable ways. We must embrace a new and responsible care and use of the earth, our common home.
Archbishop Martins said: “Several states in our country Nigeria are now in a lockdown owing to the devastating nature of the coronavirus. Indeed, the whole world is at present in one huge turmoil. We are now forced to exercise social distancing in our interaction with one another even as many struggle with coming to terms with the reality of the present times. As Christians who worship a living God, we must not despair but dig into the strength of our faith and stand on our conviction that He has solutions to all our problems, including coronavirus. This period calls on us to reappraise our values, our daily activities, our family relationships and how we respond to the changing world around us. No matter how we view it, God is giving us an opportunity to take part in renewing the face of the earth, though it may be in a painful manner. It is now for us to reappraise our values and shed all negative baggage to embrace God’s saving grace.”
Archbishop Martins applauded the Governor of Lagos State Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and all Health workers across the country for the good work they have been doing in managing and trying to curb the spread of the dreaded virus. He urged them not to relent in their commitments, assuring them of God’s guidance and continuous protection in their efforts.
While calling on Christians not to allow their faith to grow dim as a result of the temporal closure of their places of worship, he reminded them that God dwells with them in their homes and indeed at this time, their homes as the Domestic Church takes a new meaning that must be explored more. So, they must remain steadfast in their personal and family prayers, daily devotions and participating in the Mass, live on Lumen Christi Television Network and also online via live streaming.
Archbishop Martins also charged Government, Corporate bodies, Religious Groups and all well-meaning Nigerians to continue in their charitable gestures, providing the necessary palliatives, including food items, for the most vulnerable and needy at this time. He concluded by noting that it is difficult for a hungry man to remain indoors. He assured everyone that by God’s Grace the scourge would soon be over, and we shall see the curve being flattened all over the world.