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Homily for Our Lady Queen and Patroness of Nigeria

29 Sep 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Today, the twenty-sixth Sunday of the year (A), we celebrate Our Lady Queen and Patroness of Nigeria’s solemnity, and it is not a coincidence 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 especially and renew our confidence in Our Mother’s maternal intercessions, 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 the marriage ceremony at Cana in Galilee, She interceded for the couple running out of wine. In response, Jesus worked his first miracle by turning water into wine for them (Jn. 2:1-12). We especially call on her today to intercede for our country Nigeria; Nigeria is running out of wine; she runs out of peace and unity. 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 accessible, and our leaders seem to be very comfortable with the situation.

The Boko Haram terrorist group is terrorizing the peace of the northern part of our country; coming down to the middle belt and the southern and western part of our dear country, you meet the Fulani herdsmen and other miscreants kidnapping and 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 lines like has never been seen, and tribalism has eaten deep into our country’s unity. No more trust, ‘things are falling apart, the center 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 the restructuring of Nigeria. We hear the cry for peace, but I believe 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 that keep 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 God’s word and took the child and his mother to Egypt for safety until God called them back.

The holy family escaped to Egypt. If the land of Egypt that was once a land of slavery for Israel’s people 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 suffer what we suffered. For God called Joseph and his family out of Egypt and said, those who wanted to kill the child died; they died even without the child putting up a fight. 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 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 is not the solution to our problem but a 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 nobody.” 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 neighbors; together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat like an 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 to have a change of mentality and faith to hear God’s word and keep it.