From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo

As the Catholic Church around the World marks the Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday), the Priest in Charge of Saint Justina’s Pastoral Centre Mayodasa, Catholic Diocese of Jalingo, Reverend Father Greg Nbashi has called on Nigerian leaders to denounce hypocrisy and rule with sincerity of heart so as to move the country forward.

In a sermon delivered on Sunday, and taken from the Holy Gospel according to Mark (14: 1- 15:47), Fr. Nbashi noted that, the crowd in the Gospel who, only moments earlier were hailing Jesus as King and laying their clothes for Him to ride on, turned round to shout that a murderer be released to them while the Son of God suffers humiliation and death.

The cleric said that most times, our leaders demonstrate these hypocritical tendencies by saying one thing and doing a different thing, often to the detriment of the general public.

“Hypocrisy is one of the major problems we have in this country. Both the leaders and the led are not been sincere. We have very good policies that are not implemented simply because their implementation will benefit the ordinary people, and strip our leaders of their illusional godlike status and advantage.

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“When leaders come out to campaign, they make lofty promises, but like the crowd in our Gospel passage today, once they get into office, the tune changes. They begin to shout “crucify them” in different ways as they implement policies that they know will bring dangerous storms on the people, while they themselves hydroplane in the luxuries that should be our common heritage.

“They wear the toga of nationalists to lure us into believing that they have national interests at heart but end up pursuing personal and sectional interests at the expense of national interests. All leaders who are pursuing tribal, religious, and other sectional interests are all hypocrites and worse than the crowd that condemned Jesus to death out of envy.

“Similarly, the followers are also not exonerated from this evil. We fail to speak the truth to leadership. And when anyone is bold enough to speak the truth, they are victimised and used as scapegoats. Examples abound. Unfortunately, it is even those who are suffering the same situation you are speaking against that take it up against you just to please the leaders. We turn to hail them even when we are well aware that they have failed woefully or at best, are measuring far beyond expectations. And that makes the leaders relaxed.

“A lot of people are suffering unjustly in prisons today because, the judges, like Pontus Pilate, knew the truth, but chose to follow the path of popular opinion or for their personal gains, and chose to send innocent people to death literally speaking. And so we must be sincere to ourselves and to our commitment to nationhood if we must grow away from our current plight” Fr. Nbashi insisted.

The Passion Sunday usually marks the beginning of the Holy Week that commemorates the triumphant entry of Jesus in Jerusalem, His arrest, judgment, suffering, death, and eventual resurrection at Easter.