by Sr. Josephine Joseph Ezior, MMM Nigeria 01.01.2022
Christmas is a significant event in Nigeria and the most exciting periods of the year for most Nigerians. Everyone, both young and old, long for it. It is a season of change in the environment, change from the routine meals and businesses, but most of all, it also brings growth in the spiritual life. Christmas in Nigeria is a family event, a time when most family members come together to celebrate and have fun. Most people travel home, where other family members and relatives live. In all these, the cure is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
I love celebrating Christmas with my sisters in the community, the MMM family. One Christmas day 25th December, I was on duty in a maternity unit, in a labour ward in the hospital, and the whole day was as if something was out of the ordinary. At first, I felt I should not be on duty. I should be with my sisters in the community to celebrate the birth of Christ. When I could not contain the feeling, I made a request to change my duty to another day. Unfortunately, my request was not approved. I felt I was going to miss everything about this beautiful day. In the spirit of obedience, I accepted the duty. For me, it was a great sacrifice. Accepting this has positively influenced my understanding about Christmas celebration. I came on duty and met a woman in labour crying and praying at the same time. I was with the woman, assisted her and she gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. The first cry of the newborn infant made my Christmas of that year a memorable one. The mother of the newborn infant took a deep breath, gave thanks and praises to God for safe delivery. This was a moment of joy and blessing received proudly. I appreciated the gift of new life brought into the world. I was instrumental to this.
The celebration of Christmas made more meaning for me after this experience. Celebrating the birthday of Christ and celebrating the birthday of this new born took me to a deep imagery of the joy that Mary and Joseph felt with the host of Angels on the birth of the Messiah. As the Gospel of Luke says, “The angel of the Lord said to the shepherds, ‘I bring you good news of a great joy, which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.’” I felt hope fulfilled, fear and anxiety eliminated, and joy complete in the life of the mother of the child. Jesus Christ, the true light dispels the darkness of the world with the start of human salvation. The question I asked myself and I encourage everyone to think about is “If everyone decides to go off on Christmas day, who would care for the sick and women in labour in the hospital?” This true light can only shine brightly in peoples’ lives if we are open to let-go of some parts of us and share with others our times and loves. Thanks to God, my Christmas of that year ended with joy and alleluia.