By Constaincia Uruakpa
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins has urged Catholics to pay attention to the word of God that is proclaimed on the altar, as well as allow the Word to find a place in their hearts, and impact their lives positively. Archbishop Martins who gave the charge recently, during the dedication of St. Andrew Catholic Church, Ilemba, Lagos, further urged the people to allow the word of God, to guide them in the way they speak, in the way they think, and in the decisions that they take. The Archbishop enjoined the people to ensure that their coming into the presence of God is reflected in all aspects of their lives. He said: “My dear friends, when you come into this Church, please pay attention to the word of God that is proclaimed from this lectern, let the word of God find a home in your heart, let the word of God change your lives.
Allow the word of God to teach you. Allow the word of God to guide you in the way you speak, in the way you think, and in deciding what you will do. “If there is anyone who comes into the Church and does not listen, how on earth is he supposed to be able to know how to speak, and his words will be as if it was coming from Jesus? How will our thinking and decisions be like that of Jesus, if we do not listen to his words?” Calling on people to be kind to one another, Archbishop Martins added that the people will encounter Jesus in one another, when they come to Church because everyone is made in the image and likeness of God. “Every one of us is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Every one of us that receive the Holy Spirit is like a tabernacle that has Jesus in it. That is why when we meet one another, we must meet Jesus in one another because we are made in the likeness of God, and have the spirit of Jesus.” Speaking on the significance of dedicating a place for public worship by the people of God, the Archbishop assured the people of the blessings of God
. He said: “God specifically instructed Moses in Exodus 25, to take a contribution from the people of Israel, and use it in building a sanctuary, a holy place in which He can be present among His people. We are also told in the scripture, how David wanted to build a house for the Lord, and how God refused him because it is his son, Solomon that will build a temple for Him (God). Solomon built a temple for God and did an elaborate ceremony of dedicating the temple to show the value and importance of the temple that the Lord had asked him to build. “What we are doing now is much more important because we are offering in this Church now, the sacrifice of Jesus himself, not the blood of bulls or other animals, but the blood of Jesus the son of God, who dwells among us. Recalling the instruction of Jesus as regards the place he was going to eat the Passover, He said the Lord Jesus wanted His people to build themselves a place of worship, where the community will gather together, to pray, to read the Bible, and to receive the body and blood of Jesus.
On the majesty, and the glory of God, he said: “There is no way that the beauty of the Church that we build will match the excellence of God, no matter how we decorate it, how expensive what we use to decorate it, it cannot be equal to the majesty, and the glory of God. He has chosen to be with us, so that we can have an encounter with him. We can have an encounter with him in the scripture, the word of God. We can have an encounter with him in the individual members of the Church. We can have an encounter with Him in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.” Giving thanks to God for the opportunity of celebrating the dedication of the church building, the Archbishop said that it is not only the celebration of the Church dedication that the people are having, but also the celebration of the joy of completion. “We are also celebrating the joy of bringing to completion a project that we started in faith. I am sure we did not have all the money that we needed when we started.
I am sure we were wondering where the money will come from, but then, by the grace of God, here we are. What we started in faith is brought to completion. May God’s name be praised now and forever more”, he prayed. He commended the parishioners for all the sacrifices they have made towards the completion of the Church building. He said: “I am sure that you have made numerous fundraising. I am sure that you have made sacrifices. I am sure that you have paid levies, and levies, and levies. Am sure that many have also made freewill voluntary donations, finally, in the year 2021, we are dedicating the building, setting it aside for the worship of God alone. “This building, as from today cannot, and will not be used for anything else, apart from the worship of God. That is what we are doing today; setting it aside. Am sure you met many obstacles on the way to what we are doing today. Am sure you have had to solve many problems with perseverance. And today, we celebrate the joy of completion. The priest and people of St. Andrew, Ilemba, you are truly workers, workers in the house of the Lord, workers in the Lord. May God accept your sacrifices, through the same Christ our Lord.”