Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaThursday, December 29, 2016
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he third Sunday in Advent is worldwide known in the Catholic Church as "Gaudete Sunday". On that day, the Church urges her sons and daughters to rejoice because their salvation is nearer. The expected Messiah is close at hand to liberate his people from the slavery of sin and its consequences. He comes to end the current economic recession in Nigeria and free this country from bad leadership. When He arrives, terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers and murderous Fulani herdsmen will surrender. Nigerians will smile as hunger disappears from their sad faces. Manner shall again fall down from heaven. Christians and Muslims will embrace themselves lovingly and live peacefully with one another. Corruption shall vanish from the hearts of greedy Nigerians. Justice shall reign in the Nigerian Judiciary. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial Arms of Government will work together for the good of the Nation without fear or favour. The Niger Delta Agitators and the Indigenous People of Biafra will be pacified.

In 2016, the Gaudete (Rejoicing) Sunday fell on the 11th day of December. As I was sleeping on the night that gave birth to that day, I was rejoicing and singing unconsciously throughout my sleep. All the dreams I had that night were so joyful, such that I prayed not to wake up again. I wanted to rest in peace. But nature woke me up that day at exactly 5am. Immediately I got up from bed, I started singing and dancing for joy. I was beating the instruments by myself and was chorusing, "Gaudete! Gaudete!! Gaudete!!!" After some minutes of the merry dance, I found myself soaked in sweat. I ran into the bathroom and started dancing under the shower. However, I observed some minutes of silence as I applied the soap on my face. After the joyful bath, I walked into the chapel to say my morning prayer.

As I was coming out of the chapel, my house dog ran to me wagging its tail ceremoniously. It stood on its two hind legs and started dancing like a human being. I raised my voice and sang, "My happy dog, I wish you Gaudete Sunday and a merry Christmas in advance!" The dog was singing with me in a strange animalistic voice. At last it walked on those two hind legs to the door of the chapel and prostrated itself before the Eucharistic Lord. Animals also worship God. Therefore we must be very careful how we deal with them. If we human beings fail to occupy heaven, animals will go in there because they are sinless.

The next moment saw me at the backyard of my residence. A gospel music was booming from the house of my closest neighbor. Surprisingly, the cock I bought the other day was there waiting for execution for lunch on that Gaudete Sunday. As the gospel music was booming higher and higher, the cock started dancing miraculously. Tearful joy came down my cheeks as I was moved with pity for the cock. Its joyful dancing melted my heart. For this reason, I commanded my cook not to tamper with the life of the cock. I ordered her to use crayfish rather to prepare stew at lunch time. I happily held the dancing cock on its two wings and I promised it that it would celebrate Christmas with us and also to see the New Year 2017. Immediately I dropped it on the ground, it started crowing, "Christmas and New Year ee-eh!" Wonders shall never end. Since then I have included that cock as an active member of our household until natural or accidental death do it part.

Last week I declared Operation Yuletide Dance for all. I hope you enjoyed the joyful dance. The climax of the Operation Yuletide Dance took place in my parish on 23rd December 2016. It started at 5.00pm. The Youth Choir from various parishes participated in the grand merry music. Santa Claus, alias Father Christmas, was present in his attractive robe. He came all the way from Bethlehem. I travelled with my entourage to Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu to welcome him to Nigeria. From there we boarded a helicopter that brought him to my parish. He lavished precious gifts on us at the Yuletide dance. It was a free merry dance galore. Jesus Christ and his Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary came to the occasion with a Host of Angels from heaven. Behind them I saw Saint Joseph and Saint James dancing majestically. The Holy Spirit also came. He filled the Yuletide dance arena with holiness. Only God the Father was left behind in heaven to keep watch, lest Satan would sneak into heaven to overthrow the Blessed Trinity. Chief Sir Anthony Obiagbaoso Enukeme, the Patron of St James Parish Neni and the Onowu of Neni, hosted the grand occasion. He fed the crowd that came from near and far. The Knights and Ladies of the Church graced the event in grand style. In fact we prayed that the world should come to an end that evening, so that we can ascend into Heaven with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Angels. I won Gold Medal in the Operation Yuletide dance. My parishioners carried me shoulder high and danced through the town until daybreak. If dancing well is the only criterion of going to heaven, then I shall be the first to be there. During my birth on April-Fool's day at Central Maternity Jos, I danced joyfully from my mother's womb into the outside world. I only started crying when I felt the unfavourable weather of the sorrowful world.

It is Christmas again! With the Angels of God we sing, "Glory to be to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill!" Yes, the King of peace is born. It calls for a joyful celebration. It is a time for sober reflection. The great Socrates says that an unexamined life is not worth living. The Saviour is calling us to repent from our sins. Have you and I repented? Christ cannot be born in a heart full of iniquities. God's grace is enough for us. Saint John testifies that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Let us not drive the good Lord from our midst by living in iniquities.

By his birth, Jesus Christ reconciled us sinners with God. We are now adopted sons and daughters of God. We are obliged to reconcile with one another. If you are not in talking terms with anyone, it's time to reconcile. God forgives us our sins. Therefore, we should forgive each other. Christmas means God is love. Let us love God and love one another. We love God by doing his will. On the other hand, we love one another by seeking the good of others. The Golden Rule mandates us to do unto others what we would like them to do unto us. Christ is born. Those who are at war or enmity with each other should observe a lasting ceasefire. To manifest our love concretely, we should come to the aid of the less privileged in our society. Charity covers a multitude of sins.

With gratitude to the Almighty and merciful Father, may we embrace each other lovely saying, "Merry Christmas!" Alejandro, a 7-year old boy from Colombia, who is currently living in Oxford Georgia, released a helium-filled balloon at this year's Christmas with a photo and letter attached on it. He believes the balloon and the letter will get to heaven where his late dad is. In the letter attached to the flying balloon he wrote, "Daddy, I wish you were here so we could have fun together. I wish you a Merry Christmas. I hope you tell God to give me those presents. I hope you are happy in heaven. If you are, then tell me. I love you."(Yahoo News, Tuesday 13 December 2016). With little Alejandro we cheerfully say to the living and the dead, "Merry Christmas!" If there is no Christmas, then those who are in heaven cannot be there, and those who are on earth have no hope of eternal salvation.

The Incarnation of the only Son of God brings healing to the sick and those in bondage. He sets spiritual and physical prisoners free. He brings hope to the down-cast. If you are weighed down by any suffering, then do not despair. The Saviour Jesus Christ is around. He tells us, "Come to me all you who suffer and are over-burdened, I shall give you rest" (Mtt 11:28). The poor and the less privileged in our society should rejoice because the Alpha and Omega has come. To all those in the above categories, I cheerfully say, "Merry Christmas!" Jesus loves you. I love you too.

Christmas celebration brings the Lunar Calendar Year to an end. Thus we say goodbye to the year 2016 on 31st December night. It is a transition night from old year to a new year. We are grateful to God for the gift of life. Without God we can do nothing. Praise be to God as we wish all and sundry a blissful New Year 2017. It is another year of positive realization of our dreams and prayers. Nigerians are hopeful that 2017 will be better than 2016. Economic recession and hunger crippled us in 2016. May it not be so in 2017! President Buhari encourages Nigerians not to lose hope. He has presented the 2017 Budget of N7.2trn before the National Assembly for consideration, the biggest budget so far. It is termed "Budget of Economic Recovery." 90% of Nigerians are grievously sick due to the 2016 economic recession virus. May they recover in 2017 in the name of Jesus Christ the Messiah! Amen!!!

As we march into the year 2017, the citizens of Anambra State will go to the poll again for gubernatorial election. I reiterate that the incumbent Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, is highly worthy of a second term in order to finish the good works he massively started. Let us shine our eyes as we cast our votes, lest we go back to Egypt where we were languishing in bondage. It is forward ever and backward never. Happy Christmas and a fruitful New Year 2017!