The Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese has called for the bridging of social gaps in the West African country that he says has been riddled with discrimination, with poverty being labelled a “social disease.”
In his Sunday, February 14 homily at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral of Abuja Archdiocese, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama highlighted the need to break the barriers between social classes in the example that Jesus gives when he heals the man with leprosy in Mark’s Gospel.
“By stretching out His hand and touching the leper, Jesus broke the barrier between the clean and unclean, to show us that in the family of God, no one is to be discriminated against, rejected or excluded,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
He added, “We must build bridges of love and not walls of hatred as we do today; to show compassion especially to those maltreated, deprived and rejected by society.”
According to the Nigerian Prelate, the disease of leprosy symbolizes the misery of the present-day “sin-infected society and disfigured humanity.”
The poor are being mistreated in a society where poverty has become a disease, he said and explained, “Today in the world, poverty is a menacing social disease, and being poor is enough justification for maltreatment.”
“Those living with HIV/AIDS, the mentally, emotionally or physically challenged, ex-convicts, illiterates, alcoholics, drug addicts, the critically sick and even those battling with the deadly coronavirus disease suffer a lot of discrimination or condescending treatment,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
More increasingly, he observed, the world wants to do everything by mere human reasoning or scientific and technological skills, in a way that seems to aims to exclude “God who is seen as an intruder rather than the Creator of heaven and earth, and those things that live and move in them”.
“Our world is trying very hard to distance God from human affairs and to distance human hearts and souls from God, so that modern man can live comfortably with all kinds of freedoms without God!” the Nigerian Archbishop said.
Apart from physical leprosy, the world today suffers from the leprosy of sin, which the Archbishop said is worse than any infectious disease.
“Sin corrupts our soul, separates us from God, spoils our relationship with one another, makes us perpetually enslaved, makes us unclean, keeps us troubled, robs us of our innocence and inner peace, and separates us from the community of believers,” he said, applying the February 14 Gospel reading to present-day life experiences.
He further noted that the leper, having been cleansed, went about proclaiming the good news even though he was instructed by Jesus not to do so.
“Our world needs bringers of good news; the healing of wounded hearts, peace, joy and progress and not the news of kidnapping, terrorism, banditry and other man-made miseries we inflict on one another because of large-scale deficiency of morality and very corrupt practices,” he said.
In his Valentine’s message on February 14, the 62-year-old Nigerian Archbishop urged the people of God in Africa’s most populous nation to embrace true love in their human interactions.
“As the world celebrates Valentine’s Day, let it be about true love in daily human interactions and relationships, in marriage and in society,” he said.
The Archbishop added, “St. Paul states that love is the greatest and without love we are nothing. Unless we can show true love to others, all we say is ineffective; what we say is incomplete; what we believe is insufficient; what we give is insignificant and all we accomplish is inadequate.”