The Parish Priest of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Catholic Church, Okota, Lagos, Rev. Fr. Eric Onyeoziri has called on Catholic Priests to be agents of unity, as he reminded them of their mission to be ambassadors of peace, pathfinders and bridge builders in society. Fr. Onyeoziri who gave the charge at the 2021 Chrism Mass celebration held at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, stressed that the mission of priests is to unite the world, and not to divide it. Giving an account of a battle ship designed for war, that faced greater danger from inner threat due to the arms and ammunition it was carrying, than the outer threat it initially thought was its problem, the priest said the Lord never called Christians, to be battleships, but fishing boats. He said: “Our Mission is to unite the world. We are not called to be iron curtains or great walls. We are called to be ambassadors of peace, pathfinders and bridge builders. We live in a country of great divides, affliction, captivity and agitations for cessation.
While we speak truth to power, we should not be agitators for division and conflicts that will only further multiply conflicts and afflictions. We are to comfort the afflicted; that is what the Lord tells us to do. He never instructed us to agitate or provoke the afflicted into conflict with the aggressor. While stressing the strength in the unity of all regions in the country, the priest said that any and every person calling for division or secession of regions in the Nigerian State is on a slippery slope. He said: “All those who call for South East or South West to divide are on a slippery slope. Unity is strength! United we stand, divided we fall. Let us demand for a better nation, not for another nation. What we need is not division, but will power and humility to restructure state of origins, geopolitical zones, rotational presidency, and unicameral parliament, to curb excess waste on senators.
“The point is this, when politicians know they can’t rule the full entity called Nigeria, they try to break it into parts. This creates dividing lines. If history has taught us anything, it should be that the creation of more states in the various Geo-political zones in this country did not unite regions but divided them and weakened their strength. Parts can further be divided, that is when the Enugu man will say I have no business with the Abia man, and the Ekiti man will know that he is not Ogun. “The word of God tells us in Isaiah 2:4, “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spares into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation nor will they train for war anymore.” While reminding them that the readings of the day was both a reminder and a warning to men of God not to fail to heed God’s words, and focus to on the mission given to them, Father Oyeoziri called on priests to reflect on the priesthood and the instruments of his healing ministry; the Sacred oils; the oil of Chrism, the oil of Catechumens and the oil for the Sick.
At every Chrism Mass, we come to re-enact and refresh our faith, like the doctor needing to take his injections to be well enough and strong enough for his patients. Therefore, in the blessing and consecration of these oils, we ask God to refresh not one, but all the sacraments in which they are used. We ask God to refresh and renew baptism; refresh and renew confirmation; refresh and renew anointing of the sick; and finally, refresh and renew Holy Orders. “This is the reason why the renewal of Priestly promise always takes place at the Mass of Chrism. In this renewal of promise, priests will once again rededicate themselves anew to their ministry, to the Bishop and to the faithful people of God. This commitment entails a full, not partial self-giving of the priest to a life of service; but that is not all that is done at this Mass. At this Mass, the lay faithful, gathered around their Bishop and priests, not as spectators but as actors and collaborators, will be required, before God and his priests, to pledge their unflinching love and support for their priests through prayer and charity” he said.