Homily for Our Lady Queen and Patroness of Nigeria

Today, the twenty-sixth Sunday of the year (A), we celebrate the solemnity of Our Lady Queen and Patroness of Nigeria, and it is not a coincident that we also celebrate the anniversary of our national independence today. The Church in Nigeria consciously joins every Nigerian on this day, not just to celebrate the anniversary of our national independence, but also to pray specially and renew our confidence in the maternal intercessions of Our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. With one voice, the Church in Nigeria calls on our Lady to intercede for Nigeria in distress.

We have so much confidence in her power of intercession before the throne of her Son Jesus Christ. The Blessed Virgin Mary is a gift to the Church and a gift to the world. Her role in our salvation is not ended, she continues to intercede for us before Jesus Christ the redeemer of the world. That is the reason the Church in Nigeria dedicates our country to her, to intercede for us.

At marriage ceremony at Cana in Galilee, She interceded for the couple who were running out of wine, and in response, Jesus worked his first miracle by turning water into wine for them (Jn. 2:1-12). We specially call on her today to intercede for our country Nigeria; Nigeria is running out of wine, she is running out of peace and unity. So many Nigerians are becoming refugees in their own country, they are becoming slaves in their own land, the roads are becoming so dilapidated, the standard of education is going down, health facilities are not accessable, and our leaders seem to be very comfortable with the situation.

The Boko Haram terrorist group are terrorising the peace of the northern part of our country, and coming down to the middle belt and to the southern and western part of our dear country, you meet the Fulani herds men killing human beings like mere animals, people are being kidnapped and killed by their own brothers and sisters, and armed robbery has become the order of the day. Those elected into political offices are robbing the nation and starving their own people to death. Our Country Nigeria has become so heavily and dangerously divided along religious line, and tribalism has eaten deep into the unity of our Country. There is no more trust, things are falling apart, the centre can no longer hold. Even the Church is parked full of fake prophets and prophetess, deceiving and stealing in the name of God.

In our celebration of the anniversary of our national independence, we hear the drums of war, we hear the cry of hunger, the cry for freedom, for restructuring of Nigeria, and we hear the cry for peace. But I believe all hope is not gone, there is hope. Let us join hands with the whole Church in Nigeria to continue to ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. With her on our side, the Lord Jesus who is the peace between us as St. Paul said in our second reading this morning will break down barriers which keeps us apart.

In our gospel reading this morning, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said to him, Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him. Joseph obeyed the word of God and took the child and his mother to Egypt for safety until God called them back.

The holy family ran to Egypt for safety. If the land of Egypt that was once a land of slavery for the people of Israel could become a land of safety for the child Jesus, then, there is hope for our land. Nigeria will be great again, our children will not surfer what we suffered. For God called Joseph and his family out of Egypt and said, those who wanted to kill the child are dead; they died even without a fight from the child. The Lord will fight for us. God fought because, Joseph obeyed the word of God. He obeyed when he was asked to move to Egypt, and returned when he was asked to do so.

To be truly independent therefore is to be dependent on God and do what is right. As a country, we cannot claim to be independent unless we learn to depend on God and do what is right. The leaders must learn to lead with the fear of God in them, while you and I must play our part as good citizens. The agitation for secession and the call for restructuring of Nigeria are not the solution to our problem, but change of mentality. Our mentality must change, we must learn to begin to see ourselves as our brother’s keeper, to “belong to everybody and to no body.” Then, as recorded in our first reading this morning, the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guild hem. The cow and the bear shall be neighbours, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat like ox. … There shall be no harm…

We pray for our country Nigeria today, that as we celebrate the 57th anniversary of our national independence, that peace may be restored to our land. We call on our Lady, queen and patroness of Nigeria to intercede for us to have a change of mentality and the faith to hear the word of God and keep it.

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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