Listen, Lord! Forgive, Lord! …
Out of the depths I cry to you
O Lord, Lord hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
To the voice of my pleading
If you O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness;
For this we revere you. (Psalm 130:1-2)
For as long as Nigeria has been in existence before and after independence in 1960 the cry from our depths of sorrow and distress has been getting louder and louder. The Imo-Igbo cry of sorrow and distress reached its overwhelming bloody climax and turned into moaning and groaning when in 1966 we were slaughtered in the northern parts of Nigeria and pursued down to our villages and homes from 1967 to 1970 in an apparent war of extermination and enslavement. The bitter envy and the destructive rivalry among Nigerians and the opportunistic greed of Nigeria’s leaders and people including Igbo leaders and people even after the Nigeria-Biafra war have only intensified and expanded the tragedy of hating and killing in our land.
The blood-guilt in this nation and even in Imo-Igbo land is still raw and fresh. Peace remains far from this nation of daily blood-shed and evident insecurity. The recent elections in Nigeria and Imo State that have brought us to this relative or seeming moment of quiet and peace drip with corruption, hatred, envy, violence and bitterness that are not quite over. You and I need continuous repentance and confession of our sins for our share in the guilt of Nigeria, Igboland and Imo State. Let us therefore at this moment make ours the penitent confession of the prophet Daniel praying along with me –
O my Lord, God, great and to be feared, you keep the covenant and show faithful love towards those who love you and who observe your commandments: we have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly, we have betrayed your commandments and rulings and turned away from them …To us, our kings, our chief men and our ancestors, belongs the look of shame … For your own sake, Lord, let your face smile again on your desolate sanctuary … Relying not on our upright deeds but on your great mercy, we pour out our plea to you. Listen, Lord! Forgive, Lord! Hear, Lord and act!
Standing Firm with the True God
King David, the most famous king of Israel, humbly acknowledged his blood-guilt as a man of war. He went to the extreme of ensuring that the simple and poor soldier, Uriah was murdered in a fixed battle arrangement so that, he, David could take over Uriah’s wife Bathsheba whom he had already seduced into adultery. That was part of why God did not allow him to build the Temple for which he had assembled massive materials. Yet no other king in Israel was as faithful to God and as penitent for his sins as David was. King Solomon who was even more endowed with God’s gift than his father David is not as revered as King David. Today even as you pray the Psalms you will see the inscription “of David” indicating that the psalm was composed by King David or attributed to David, the David whose musical skill was used to placate the envious satanic spirit of Saul. According to one critical source, King David composed seventy-three of the Psalms; another source credits him with eighty-two of them out of one hundred and fifty.
That is why as in today’s first reading taken from 2 Samuel chapter 23 an extension of chapter 22, we first see David the believer in the true God pouring himself out –
Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is my God. I take refuge in him, my rock, my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold, my place of refuge. (2 Sam 22:3)
With this firm belief in the true God, David can confidently and humbly proclaim–
Thus speaks David son of Jesse, thus speaks the man raised to eminence, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the singer of the songs – psalms – of Israel.
The Spirit of Yahweh speaks through me, his word is on my tongue …
He whose rule is upright on earth, who rules in the fear of God is like the morning light at sunrise… making the grass of the earth sparkle after the rain. (2 Sam. 23:1-4)
It is in the Davidic spirit of unwavering faith in the true God and continuous penitential prayer before God that we are here gathered praying for all Imo citizens, for all human beings and especially for our new governor-elect that we and he will ever make God our daily rock, our mighty fortress, day in day out. Fortunately the true God has revealed himself not only as Sovereign Creator of the universe, as the Redeemer of wicked mankind and the Sanctifier of the defiled and degraded.
In the face of the resort to gods that are no God, powers that ultimately prove powerless, superstitions and attractions that prove dangerous and deceptive, I challenge you all and the governor-elect to steer clear of sycophants, prophets, priests, pastors, cultic and occultic persons and clubs that may tempt you away from worshipping and serving the one and only true God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ who has proved his absolute love for us all in the sacrificial death of Christ and proved his absolute power and sovereignty by raising Jesus from the shameful death unto the glorious resurrection
A Servant-Leader for Imo-Igbo People
In our Lord Jesus Christ, way beyond Moses, the great law-giver, way beyond king David and King Solomon, we have the servant-leader of all humanity in whom dwells the fullness of divinity, wisdom and all the graces that any human needs to live uprightly, to serve and lead people effectively.
In the present state of Imo State, Igboland and Nigeria, we need a true servant-leader who will be imbued with the humility of Christ to wash our dirty feet, our dirty gutters, our dirty streets, towns and villages; we need a servant-leader who with the wisdom of Christ will guide the affairs of this State uprightly and use the available resources of this state for the common good in a spirit of equity, redignifying Imo citizens, building good roads into towns and villages, creating wealth, job opportunities and the long-expected factories and industries; we need a servant-leader who with the fortitude of Christ will fight for Imo-people in the face of the life-dangers that pressingly threaten today; a servant-leader who will valiantly defend our legitimate interests before others and not betray us all for a mess of monetary and enslaving porridge.
Imo people – let’s all share in the same humility, wisdom and fortitude so that together with this new governor and those that will come hereafter, we can build a greater, more caring and united Imo family in the spirit of the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph whose statue stands beckoningly at the round-about before the Maria Assumpta Cathedral, a principal prayer centre in Imo State.
Repent and Worship
The True God unwaveringly
Serve the People in Humility, Wisdom and Fortitude.
God bless you all.
Anthony J. V. Obinna
Archbishop of Owerri .