2018 Christmas Message of his Grace, Most Rev. Valerian M. Okeke

PRACTISE JUSTICE AND CHARITY

The Christmas message of this year is taken from the prophesy of Joel. Those of you who attended Mass this morning will still have that very fresh in your minds, where the Lord says, “daughter of Zion rejoice, your liberation is near, your conviction is cancelled, your enemies are dispersed, they are cast away. The Lord is near.”

The daughter of Zion today is you. You child of God, you are the daughter of Zion today. You are the Lord’s beloved. You are the child of God. The Lord is still near to us.

This Christmas, as we prepare to re-enact, the mystery of the incarnation, the Lord assures us of His permanent nearness to us. But we have to prepare, and we have to be disposed to receive these blessings, to have our enemies dispersed, to have our convictions cancelled, to have our liberation from the Lord assured. And that is what calls us to do what John the Baptist tells us in the Gospel of Luke today, Chapter 3 verses 10 and following. Calling us to always practise justice and charity.

John the Baptist tells us, “if you have many articles of clothing, share some with your brother who has none. If you have food, share with others who do not have the privilege you have. If you have any thing that you can share, please share with the less privileged. When we talk of justice, we are talking of giving people what is their due, but when we talk of charity, we are taking of giving people what is not their due, what is not their right, but you going out of your way to forfeit what belongs to you to share with the less privileged and to give somebody what he needs, though it may not be his or her right, to deprive yourself of something that belongs to you rightfully because some other person needs it more than you. And that is charity. And when we talk of justice, we are talking of making sure you don’t deprive anybody what is his or her right; because of your position, because you are in power, because you have the authority, you are blocking people from being what they should be or depriving them from having what they can have. Then you are not practising justice. When you practise justice always and practice charity, the promises of the Lord, from the prophesy of Zephaniah will come to you. The Lord will defend you. The Lord will be your protector. The Lord will be you defender. Your enemies will be defeated. Your problems will be solved.

So, I call on you this Christmas and this is my message: to practise justice and charity. Shun lies, don’t peddle pedal lies, don’t grab what does not belong to you and tell lies about it, don’t struggle for what is not your own and tell lies about it to defend yourself. If you are doing that, you are blocking yourself from divine blessings.

I pray that you, each and everyone of you in this state and in this country, will uphold the truth. You practise justice and practise charity. And the Lord’s blessings will come down on you. This is my prayer for you through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Happy Christmas.

Given in Onitsha, at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, on the 16th day of December 2018.

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