Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, has said although peace was the road less travelled, non-violence and forgiveness was the only way for Nigerian Christians in the face of persecution.
Speaking on “FOR A TORMENTED NATION AND A BESIEGED FAITH,” in a homily at the funeral of a seminarian, Michael Nnamdi, who was killed by kidnappers, at Good Shepherd Seminary, Kaduna, Tuesday, the cleric said Nigerian Christians had been betrayed and were at war.
“However,” he noted, “Christianity parts ways with other religions when it comes to what to do with the enemy.
Here, we must admit, Christianity stands alone. This is a challenge for us as Christians. “Others believe in an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or that one can take either blood money or make some form of reparation one way or the other.
However, for us Christians, Jesus stands right in the middle with a message that is the opposite of all that is sensible to us as human beings. “Put back your sword (Mt. 26: 52). Turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:38).
Pray for your enemy (Mt. 5: 44). Give the thief your cloak (Lk. 6:29). None of these makes sense to the human mind without faith. This is why Jesus said the only solution is for us to be born again (Jn. 3:3).
“The challenge before us is to behold the face of Jesus and ask the question, Are we Born against hatred, anger, violence and vengeance? “There is hope, my dear friends. Are we angry? Yes, we are. Are we sad? Of course, we are. Are we tempted to vengeance?
Indeed, we are. Do we feel betrayed? You bet. Do we know what to do? Definitely. Do we know when to do it? Why not? Do we know how? Absolutely. Are we in a war? Yes. But what would Christ have us do? “The only way He has pointed out to us is the non-violent way. It is the road less travelled, but it is the only way.”
Leah Sharibu, Michael as models for Christians
On those who have served as models, Kukah said: ” How and why does God choose these young persons as our models? Leah Sharibu and now Michael— all teenagers when they confronted evil and became martyrs.
“In a recent report in Daily Trust on February 2, I read the story of one of the Dapchi girls and their incredible show of bravery in the face of fire. They were asked by their ferocious captors to point out the Christians among them or they would all face death.
“In response, they said in unison that they were all Muslims. Then, she continued, ‘when they intensified their threat to kill us, Leah stood up and said that she was a Christian. She said they could go ahead and kill her instead of killing all of us.
“So, they separated her from us…before we were rescued, they told us that if Leah would convert to Islam, they would free us‘. So we tried as much as possible to convince her, but she refused saying she would never renounce her religion for fear of death’.
“We have no evidence of what transpired between Michael and his killers. However, for us Christians, this death is a metaphor for the fate of all Christians in Nigeria, but especially northern Nigeria,” Kukah added.
Still preaching against violence, he continued: “For us Christians, it would seem safe to say that we are all marked men and women today. Yet, we must be ready to be washed in the blood of the lamb.
The testimony of the Dapchi girl above suggests that our country has a future, a future based on the innocence of our youth who have seen beyond religion. “Leah Sharibu is a martyr for the faith and so is Michael. St Paul has already said it well: We carry this treasure in vessels of clay so that all this surpassing power may not be seen as ours, but as God’s. Trials of every sort come our way, but we are not discouraged.”
According to the non-violence advocate, “we are left without answers but we do not despair, persecuted but not abandoned, knocked down but not crushed. At any moment, we carry in our person, the death of Jesus, so that in life, Jesus may also be manifested in us (2 Cor. 4: 7-10).”