Good Friday marks the celebration of the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the Cathedral Church of St Anthony, Uromi, Bishop Donatus Ogun was on ground to lead the flock on the celebration. The event which began with the Stations of the cross kicked off at 1:00 PM, Nigerian time.
The Stations of the Cross began in the Church and took a processional nature outside of the Church, to some streets, hospital and school around the environ of the Cathedral Church. At the close of the Stations of the Cross, the celebration of the Passion of the Lord began at 3:00 PM
In his homily, Bishop Ogun stated that the event of the passion of the Lord follows from the event of the Lord’s supper. The passion event of Jesus Christ is the actualization of the symbolic event of the Lord’s Supper. “Today Jesus physically gave his body and blood for us on the cross to save us”, Bishop Ogun said.
Bishop Ogun went further to reflect on some of the characters in the passion narrative. First it was Our Lord Jesus Christ. He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to confront the situation of the cross in his life. Even though it was not going to be a sweet experience, he submitted to the will of the Father: “… not my will, but your will be done,” Jesus said to the Father. The lessons from this attitude of Jesus is that as Christians, we must learn to seek God’s will in our lives and accept it, even when it is not convenient. This is the meaning of the cross in our lives. We must avoid the worldly trend of seeking out convenient shortcuts to the Christian life.
Another point in the action of Jesus in the narrative is the fact that he remained silent in the face of insults and accusation howled at him. The lesson here, is that, it is not every word that people throw at us, especially offensive words, that we should reply to. The silence of Jesus threw Pilate into more confusion and great dread of the person of Jesus. Silence sometimes, could be a weapon of victory over accusers.
Yet another point in Jesus’ life was that the accusers actually could not hold anything against him, because he was actually innocent. As Children of God, Bishop Ogun urged us the congregation to live innocent lives, so that those who accuse us will have no evidence to show for their accusations.
On the long run, the only accusation they brought against Jesus was that he claimed that he was the son of God. Even though it was for this reason he was to die, the last words of Jesus shows that he was resolute and still very proud of having God for his Father and went ahead to show this to the people when he said: “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit”. The strong conviction of Jesus and his taking a strong stand for his conviction led to the conversion of the Centurion, who came to discover the genuineness and sincerity in Jesus, and went ahead to exclaim: “This man is truly the son of God”. We must be proud of our Christian faith in Jesus Christ and insist on it even in the face of persecutions.
On the Cross, Jesus forgave those who were killing him and prayed for them. We must learn that we owe forgiveness to those who offend us as much as they owe us apology. We must fulfil our own part of the debt even when they fail in their own.
The Characters of Peter and Judas were ones of denial and betrayal of Jesus Christ their Lord and Master. It was very terrible. However, Bishop Ogun made the congregation realize that each time we prefer sin and commit it, we betray and deny Jesus as well as Judas and Peter.
The crowd was not exempt in the whole scenario. They chose a wicked and evil robber Barabbas in place of the righteous man Jesus. Using this, Bishop Ogun reminded the congregation that we have often chosen Barabbas in our life experience, obviously in the times of political elections to public offices. Our nation has witness decadence over the years because we often chose and elected Barabbas in preference to the righteous Jesus. We often would leave the right persons to chose the evil ones who buy our conscience with money. Bishop Ogun urged the congregation to have a change of heart and always to make a choice for Jesus always in their lives.
The repentant thief earned the title “Good Thief” simply because he admitted his guilt and iniquity and confessed it before Jesus. For this reason, he was said to have stolen heaven. Bishop Ogun urged all, not to seek for justification for our evil actions as the other thief did, but to admit and confess them to Jesus, and the Sacrament of Confession is a most appropriate way to do this. His Lordship, therefore encouraged all who have been giving reason to avoid the Sacrament of Confession to have a rethink and make use of the opportunity of it that the Catholic Church is offering, especially in this Year of Mercy.
A high point of the Passion celebration was the veneration of the Cross which was led by the Bishop himself.
REPORTER: ANDREW OZIEGBE