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THERE IS HOPE AND ASSURANCE WITH GOD WHEN WE FORGIVE FROM THE HEART

The Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke has stressed the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation in the life of every Christian describing it as the ray of hope and assurance with God at the end of our sojourn on earth. The Archbishop made this assertion in his homily at the celebration of the opening Mass for the first Plenary Meeting of the Association of Diocesan/Religious Directors of Communications held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nnokwa, near Onitsha, Anambra State.

According to the Archbishop, in spite of the many difficulties and challenges in the world, there is hope and assurance that all is not lost with the Lord, if we embrace forgiveness from the heart and reconcile with all those who offend us, His words: “…when we forgive our brothers and sisters then we have every assurance that our heavenly Father will forgive us more than the same way we have already done”.

Using the gospel reading of the day which dwelt on the servant who was forgiven his debt by his master, after pleading for mercy; but refused to extend same to a fellow servant owing him lesser amount; the Archbishop declared: “He fell into trouble because the same request he made for himself, the same favour he wanted for himself, the same judgment he got in favour of himself, he refused to extend to his brother.” The homilist added that if this servant has forgiven his fellow servant as his master had compassion on him and forgiven him, he would have been a hero.

Archbishop Okeke who further illustrated his point with a story, remarked that if God can forgive us our sins, we must also be willing to forgive those who offend us. He added: “The Lord is telling us that if it is offensive to you, don’t do it to others”. The Archbishop continued: “So, there is hope that if you are able to extend to others the standards you want for yourselves, then the Lord Himself will receive you and do more for you. If you are able to forgive others, the Lord will forgive you more”.

The Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province further stated: “This is Lenten Season, think of all those people who have hurt you who have really offended you and forgive them from your heart. If you forgive them, the mercies of God will envelope you.”

Archbishop Valerian Okeke welcomed the directors to Onitsha Archdiocese and expressed the hope that their deliberations will enhance the evangelization mission in the country. In his own welcome address, the Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), Episcopal Chairman for Social Communications, Most Rev. Denis Chidi Isizoh; thanked the Archbishop for coming to celebrate the opening Mass, in spite of his busy schedule.

He also welcomed the directors for turning out in their large number to attend the meeting; urging them to be ready for a new era of versatile and dynamic communication apostolate for the Church in the country. Bishop Isizoh also thanked the representatives of the various organizations as well as the other faithful of the Archdiocese for coming to welcome the directors and celebrate the Mass with them.

The meeting which was attended by the new Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Episcopal Chairman for Social Communications, was also attended by invited dignitaries, representatives of the CMO, CWO, CYON and other faithful from different parts of Onitsha Archdiocese. Also in attendance was the Rev. Fr. Martin Onukwuba, President of the Regional Union of Priests of West Africa and about 50 directors of communications from different parts of the country. The theme for the 3-day meeting was: The Truth Will Set You Free (Jn.8:32), Fake News and Journalism for Peace.

 


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