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Priest urges Christians to imbibe culture of forgiveness


By Cecilia Ologunagba


Abuja   –      A Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr Robert Achiaga, has urged Christians to imbibe the culture of forgiveness as a strategy of overcoming the culture of the world which is vengeance.

Achiaga made the call in his homily at the “2017 Cultural Day Celebration’’ of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Gwarinpa, Abuja on Sunday.

Achiaga, a Cultural Retreat Coordinator, said there was always a battle to follow the culture of Christ “which is forgiveness than to follow that of the world”.

The priest, however, urged Christians not to allow their loyalty to their individual ethnic culture to overshadow their devotion to God.

He said a Christian who divided his allegiance between God and other things would not follow the teachings of Christ, especially the teaching on forgiveness.

“The loyalty of such Christian now and then, stray from the Lord to other things; this teaching could be called impracticable in his life.

“As we celebrate our cultural day today, let us remember that the Christian first belong to the Lord before his or her cultural group; our loyalty is first to the Lord.

“Unfortunately, we now have in many ways, cultural and ethnic loyalties that have begun to overshadow our loyalty to the Lord,’’ he said.

According to Achiaga, as people with cultural ideas, values, rules and judgment, we should always ask whether what we think about life agrees with what Jesus says.

“A Tiv man is a disciple of Christ, an Igbo man likewise a Yoruba man is a disciple of Christ.

“Having been called as cultural people into the culture of that which is called the `Christian culture’, we must therefore, embrace the culture of love and forgiveness.

“Jesus said we should forgive without limit. There is no limit to forgiveness as Christians but one of our battles of life and faith concerns how to treat those who consistently wrong us.

“It is a lie of the devil to think that when you forgive, you are weak and that people will take advantage of you.’’

The priest, who spoke on the Gospel, taken from Mathew Chapter 18 verses 21 to 35, emphasised on the need for Christians to realise that as people who have been forgiven by God, they should likewise forgive those that wrong them.

He said that the teaching might be difficult but must be carried out, saying, “we cannot ignore it if we see ourselves as true children of God and disciples of Jesus’’.

In addition, he said that only those who had decided to live and die for the Lord that could practice the teaching.

He quoted from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, Chapter 14 verses seven to nine, saying“ None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself”.

“If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are for the Lord.

“Today’s teaching is clear, forgiveness without limit, it is difficult. Yet, it is practicable.

“For the natural man, Jesus teaching is impracticable but to them that believe what Jesus said in the above passage (Romans Chapter 14; 7 to 9), the teaching is attainable.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the 2017 Cultural Day Celebration is “ Together in Diversity’’.

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Cultural Committee, Mrs Cheta Ibiam, said diversity in our culture unite the Christians more in Christ, saying “that is the beauty of our Lord’s creation”.

“Cultural Day diversity is having a heart and mind that acknowledges, accepts, values and celebrates different ways through which people live and interact with one other.

“Diversity in our culture is a global practice, and every tribe, state or country has unique customs and traditions that guide how they live.

“Therefore, people should live cordially and accept each other regardless of their culture, nationality, historical background, religion and ethnicity,’’ she said.

NAN also reports that other activities to celebrate the day were cultural display by parishioners, dance troupe and food fair, among others.

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