Most Rev. John Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, on Wednesday advised Christians to always control their anger and avoid revenge irrespective of the circumstances they find themselves.
Onaiyekan gave the advice in Madalla, Niger, on Wednesday on the occasion of a funeral mass at the St Theresa’s Catholic Church, for victims of the Dec. 25, 2011 bomb blast.
He urged the worshippers to move from natural feelings to ``the living springs of our faith.
“If we have learnt to see the hand of God in all that happen to us, we must see it, especially in events like the Christmas Day bomb blast, which left us totally shattered.
“We must go beyond nature and overcome natural instincts of anger and, perhaps, even vengeance.’’
Onaiyeka said the injunction of the Lord was clear: ``Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who treat you badly’’.
“We must draw on the grace of Christ for such spirit for forgiveness as Christ on the cross gave the example when he prayed for those who were persecuting him,’’ he said.
Onaiyekan also prayed that those in charge of the nation’s security and safety would have the wisdom to know how best to tackle security challenges as they occur.
“We pray for God’s protection on our security agents who often find themselves in the line of fire in the course of their duties,’’ he said.
In his message, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Mathew Kukah, said religious leaders across the faiths must stand up and face the challenge of the times by offering ``a leadership that focuses on service to humanity’’.
“These are troubled times for our country; I say so because amidst this confusing debris of hate, anger and frustration, we have had some very interesting dimensions.
“As Nigerians, Christians and Muslims, we must stand together to ensure that our resources are well utilised for the common good.
“These are difficult times but they are also times of promise; our country has turned its back on all forms of dictatorships.
“Our hands are on the plough and we are resolutely committed to democracy,’’ Kukah said.
In his remark, the church’s Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Issac Achi, urged the members to continue in the service to the Lord, saying that no amount of tribulation would deter Christians from the gospel.
“The church should take heart, believe in God and learn how to forgive the past to live together as a family,’’ he said.
The Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria, Archbishop Augustine Kasujja, called on the worshippers to trust God and pray for the deceased.
“With renewed condolences, I pray that the Lord may touch the hearts of those who instill hatred, and put stronger faith and a spirit of forgiveness in the family members, friends and parishioners of this Catholic community,’’ he said.
Eighteen bodies were buried in the premises of the church shortly after the funeral mass, amid tears and farewell songs by the church members.
The mass was held amid tight security provided by the police, FRSC, NEMA and the church security outfit.
Prof. Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information and Communications; and Sen. Ayogu Eze, Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, were among dignitaries that witnessed the occasion.