Christmas celebration has been a thing of joy in many villages and towns in Nigeria, as it reminds Christians of the birth of Jesus Christ whose coming into our world brought us tidings of great comfort and joy. Also, Jesus, while ministering here on earth, brought joy into the lives of the people through the many miracles he performed. As the Scripture says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38). Therefore, as followers of Christ, we all are invited to bring joy into the lives of the people around us, especially in this most challenging period of Covid-19 Pandemic that is ravaging the whole world.
In Nigeria, the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic is devastating. Despite the palliative measures that were put in place at both the State and Federal levels of government to cushion its effects on the masses and businesses, Nigerian especially, daily income earners, continue to bear the brunt. As Christmas season draws nearer, despite the joys that Christmas celebration brings, many people are depressed and worried of the intense suffering and hunger in the society. Today, we see so many people living below poverty line. A lot of the Nigerian youths are unemployed. Many families are living from hand to mouth. Some have lost family members, close relatives and loved ones. The cost of living has gone very high. There are lots of people who find themselves depressed or even contemplate suicide because they do not find joy or satisfaction in their world any more. We have some people who are searching for some happiness, delight, or gladness to lighten up their lives after being in so much sadness and sorrows for a long period of time.
In the face of this Pandemic, some well-meaning Nigerians have devoted themselves to sharing the joys of Christmas with their neighbors. They have organized themselves in small groups to provide some palliatives to the people living in abject poverty around them. Also, some philanthropist that are living in big cities such as Lagos, Onitsha, Port-Harcourt, Abuja and so on, are helping many poor people living in rural villages with palliatives to cushion the effect of hunger brought about by the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Religious Sisters of Charity are not exempted in the ministry of Charity to the poor. At community level, sisters give the poor people around them the feel of the joys of Christmas according to what is obtainable in the area where they live and work. In the Regional House Community, Satellite Town, Lagos, for instance, sisters will share raw food items to the staff and the poor people living around them. Also, cooked food will also be shared to the Naval officials who are on duty controlling traffic beside the house on Christmas day.
There are people today who feel that they can testify on how they have found some joy in their lives, having benefited from the love and care that the sisters and other Christians share with them at Christmas. May the joy of the Lord be the strength of every Christian and all people of good will, as we celebrate the birth of Christ amid the most challenging period of the Covid-19 Pandemic in our world.
Elizabeth Onyekigwe RSC