Christians in Nigeria will today join their counterparts across the world to mark Good Friday and Easter on Sunday to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
All denominations in Christendom will have special services to mark these important days.
It is important to note that the death of Jesus Christ brought salvation to the world and humanity. Moreover, without the death of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary and his resurrection on the third day, there would be no Christianity.
Easter is the period of sober reflection and marks the end of the Lenten Season.
On the eve of the Easter Friday (Holy Thursday), the priests wash the feet of the parishioners, just as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples after His last supper with them.
This, according to Catholic dogma, is to instill the virtues of humility as shown by Jesus when He washed His disciples’ feet. Jesus also thought about caring for one another and putting others first which every Christian must exhibit.
The Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday) marked the beginning of the Easter celebrations called Holy Week. Many hand out palm branches that have been blessed by the priest to the congregation, who will then make them into crosses. The palm branches marks Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem to take on the task of defeating death, death on a cross.
Ahead of the twin-events, Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, described the 2015 Easter celebration as a period of forgiveness and time to show unconditional love to one another.
He noted that God showed “us his unconditional and immeasurable love by blotting out our offences through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ His only begotten Son.”
Ezeokafor stated this while delivering his Easter message at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, yesterday. He said that the forgiveness we have received from God in Christ is totally unmerited and unsolicited, stressing that we have absolutely done nothing to deserve it.
“Being unsolicited does not mean that it was not absolutely necessary in our lives. It is, but the devil keeps blurring our vision of this necessity,” he stated.
According to him, “Those who bear grudges are easily prone to psychological and emotional breakdown. The more we forgive, the more we cleanse ourselves of resentment which harms our souls; makes peace with our past; become freer and more relaxed.
“Once we forgive from the depths of our hearts, we open the door for the graceful presence of God, which brings peace and serenity to our hearts and souls. The less we forgive, the less we give room in our lives for God who is forgiveness Himself.
“In families, forgiveness brings members together, so that they can work together for the good of all. Without forgiveness, love suffers, making married life dry and “insipid.” This also affects our country Nigeria, we need this virtue of forgiveness very earnestly, especially in the aftermath of the elections.”
The Bishop urged Nigerians to offer hands of friendship and fellowship to all those who have done wrong at this Easter period in order to rekindle the spirit of unison .
“One who offends should stop offending and seek for forgiveness and one who is offended should find a way to forgive the offender, especially when he or she had asked for forgiveness. We are all weak and in need of forgiveness. God forgave us and continues to do so. May His love for us motivate us to seek ways to forgive others,” Ezeokafor prayed.