Our Lady, Queen of Nigeria
(Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Ephesians 2:13-22; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23)
Fr. Samuel Odeh
“Through him, you gave us freedom in a land that is richly blessed with human and natural resources, so that we might serve you, our Creator, with grateful hearts.” (Preface)
Today we celebrate the Mass of Our Lady, Queen, and Patroness of Nigeria. We are celebrating the sixty-third anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from her colonial masters, Great Britain, in 1960. The Catholic bishops conference in Nigeria have consecrated our country to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We have good reason to celebrate but we also have needs, concerns and pressing issues we must especially pray for today. What lessons are offered to us through today’s Scripture readings with respect to the current situation in our country Nigeria?
Our first reading from Isaiah is a vision of the future reign of Jesus Christ as King. It describes a future governance by God of all his creatures and an exercise of righteous power by Christ the King. The psalmist in today’s psalm prays, “O God, give your judgement to the king, to a king’s son your justice…” (Psalm 72:1). Our second reading from Ephesians highlights the reconciling power in the blood of the cross of Christ Jesus. For individual persons torn apart within themselves, or from others in their communities, or even communities separated from one another, reconciliation and peace is now possible, thanks to the blood of Christ’s cross. In our gospel reading from Matthew the life of the baby Jesus is in danger from men who saw him as a threat to their political careers and ambitions. Jesus suffered the loss of his homeland while only an infant, seeking asylum in a foreign land. Still, God’s plan for Jesus stayed on track.
Nigeria is a country richly blessed with human and natural resources. After sixty-three years of independence, what has Nigeria got to offer? There is much room for improvement and much we must ask God’s intervention for. The rule of law is yet to be brought to bear on corruption and security crises in some places. We sometimes have outbreaks of violence between communities torn apart from each other. A good number of our prisons are overcrowded with many inmates waiting to stand trial. Some of our leaders have used their offices for personal gain, placing their political careers before service to the people who elected them. There is much economic hardship for the majority of our people. Due to the removal of fuel subsidy by the newly elected government, the cost of living is now through the roof.
We offer this Mass today praying that God will help bring about a change in our situation in Nigeria, especially on behalf of the millions of its citizens who live in poverty. We pray for better policing, a reduction in crime and better correctional facilities. We pray for more funding for education in Nigeria. May Our Lady come to our aid.
“O Mary conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”