By Emeka Ani
It was a double celebration at Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri on Sunday February 2, as the Archdiocese celebrated the “Word of God Sunday” and “Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple.”
Pope Francis’ Apostolic letter, MotuProprio, “AperuitIllis,” issued on September 30, 2019, established that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God.”
The MotuProprio coincided with the 1,600th anniversary of St. Jerome’s death and his feast day.
The Apostolic Letter underscored the significance of the Bible, the practice of Reading the Bible and witnessing its teachings in our lives.
In his opening remarks, Archbishop Anthony Obinna explained that the two celebrations were being marked on the same day, February 2, because of pastoral reasons, which prevented the celebration of the Word of God Sunday on the Third Sunday, January 26.
On the presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the Archbishop said, the Lord is not just entering into the temple, “he wants to enter into your life, your family, your community, Imo State and Nigeria.”
Later in his homily, the local ordinary said before the Word of God reached this part of the world, Igboland was in total darkness, as almost everything was deified, including forests, water etc, turning them into small gods (agbara), mysterious and frightening deities.
“It was this darkness that was responsible for the killing of twins, which was prevalent uptill 1940s in some parts of Igboland and other outrageous practices.”
“He said the word of God has come into the world, into our lives and families, seeking to enter places where there are still darkness.
Archbishop Obinna regretted that some people in Igboland still prefer darkness to the Light of salvation.
He observed with regret that ndigbo, blessed both by nature and exposure and favoured with the light of faith, light of business and light of education, have slipped into darkness so much so that other nations are now pitying them.
“God blessed us in so many ways but pride, arrogance, greed and hatred even among ourselves have become a major problem,” he noted and pleaded with ndigbo to allow the light of Christ to return to their land so that our younger generation will not have a bleak future.
On politics, Archbishop Obinna condemned a situation where politicians abandon their political parties and switch over to the party in power.
According to him, “we now have “Ogbanje” politicians, Any Government in Power (AGIP) politicians,” adding that under this development ndigbo have no more position in Nigeria and we can no longer be trusted neither do we trust ourselves.
Worried by the political development in Imo State and Nigeria, Archbishop Obinna said he had hoped that things would get better and that he would retire quietly with joy but as things stand now, “I’ve been left in a state of ambiguity and uncertainty.”
He expressed optimism that the mess we’ve made of Imo State and Nigeria will one day be cleansed. “With men this is impossible, but with God it is. However, it has to come through submission to the truth and not through institutionalized corruption.”
Quoting Pope Francis, Archbishop Obinna said the Word of God “challenges us, frees us from the bondage of our selfishness and summons us to conversion,” adding that His Word has the power to change our lives and to lead us out of darkness into the light.”
The high point of the Candle Mass was the enthronement of the Word of God in the Cathedral.
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