Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny Preparing for 2014 Tripartite Elections During Lent and Easter
Episcopal Conference of Malawi
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP)
LENTEN PERIOD OF 40 DAYS
The Church chose 40 days because in the Bible, 40 is a period of preparation:
(a) The flood during the time of Noah took 40 days:
God was preparing to recreate the earth and humanity.
(b) The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years:
God was preparing them for entry into the Promised Land.
(c) Moses stayed for 40 days on Mount Sinai
God was preparing him to deliver the commandments.
(d) Elijah journeyed to Mount Sinai for 40 days
He was preparing for an encounter with God.
(e) The Ninevites fasted for 40 days:
They were preparing for God’s forgiveness.
(f) Jesus stayed in the wilderness for 40 days
He was preparing for the proclamation of the Good News of salvation.
Similarly lent is 40 days:
We prepare to receive the salvation of paschal mystery.
THE CENTRALITY OF EASTER
(a) To the Israelites the Passover marked their transformation from slavery to freedom
(b) To Jesus, the Passover marked the transition from this sinful world to the Kingdom of his Father
(c) For Christians, the Passover marks our transformation from sin and death to eternal life
The forthcoming Tripartite Elections will be conducted at the threshold of both the fiftieth anniversary (Golden Jubilee) of our country’s independence and the twentieth anniversary of the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in 1993. Right now, we are living in one of the most momentous times of this year both as Catholics and as citizens of our beautiful country Malawi. As Catholics, from Ash Wednesday (5th March, 2014) we enter a privileged time of 40 days (quadragesima) of intense prayer, fasting and alms giving. This period will culminate into the Holy Week – a special week of commemoration of the Sufferings, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lent will lead into Easter when we commemorate that our Lord Jesus Christ triumphed over sin and death. As citizens of our beautiful country – Malawi – we will shortly be going to the polls in a General Election on 20 May, 2014 to elect our leaders for the next five years. We are on the threshold of an important juncture in which an extraordinary opportunity to participate in determining the direction of our country is suddenly in our hands again.
In their recent Pastoral Letter entitled “Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny” the Bishops invited Catholics and all people of good will to make the best of the fortcoming Tripartite Elections as they provide a golden opportunity to rediscover our national destiny. Like Joshua and his compatriots, the Bishops see Malawi to be at a crossroad: “If you will not serve the Lord, choose today whom you wish to serve . . . As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We are urged to rediscover our national destiny and commit ourselves to it following the footprints of our founding fathers and not opt for self-destruction. We are called to rediscover and build the Malawi our forefathers envisioned and not continue creating a Malawi that betrays what our forefathers fought and died for.
The forthcoming Tripartite Elections provide us with the best opportunity for strengthening the vision of our destiny. Essentially this entails conducting elections that are free, fair and credible and electing leaders that have the desire, commitment and capability of turning our country around. It also entails that the electorate can get out of the chronic abject poverty by electing leaders who can enable them to do so. Not holding such kind of elections, not voting and not electing this kind of leaders is in our case similar to opting to choose death instead of life. This is the message of our letter which we present to our fellow Catholics and all people of good will. This is our appeal to all stakeholders in the forthcoming elections.
So, what a happy coincidence for us that the period running up to the Tripartite Elections runs alongside the liturgical period of Lent and Easter in which we commemorate the great mysteries of our salvation: Sufferings, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Is it perhaps more than a coincidence? The story of humanity cannot be considered purely secular and coincidental; it is always the unfolding story of God’s saving presence! This is a moment of God’s grace!
This document is an effort to allow the unfolding story of our country especially at this important juncture be guided by the unfolding story of God’s saving presence. It is a document that merges the Word of God in this Lenten and Easter period and the teachings of the Bishops into thematic points for prayer, reflection and action as we approach the Elections. It is a document for reflection and prayer emanating from Pastoral letters and Sunday Readings. This approach is in line with a longstanding conviction of the Church that “the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, . . . are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well” (Gaudium et spes 1).
While this is not a Pastoral letter of the Bishops to be read out on a particular Sunday; the idea of using the Pastoral letters in this engaging way in the period leading up to the elections has been endorsed by the Bishops. Inspired by resolutions from AMECEA, a regional grouping of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, which, among other things, call for a more prophetic, vigilant and intrusive Catholic Church in matters of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace, this document has received the full support of the Bishops.
Bringing together key guidelines from the December, 1st, 2013 Pastoral Letter “Strengthening the Vision of our Destiny” anchored by some preceding pastoral letters that dealt with elections, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace has, through this document, set the Church and indeed all people of good will on the right path towards Easter and towards the Tripartite Elections.
Specifically, the document has three objectives. Firstly, it acts as an inspiration to the clergy as they prepare to disseminate God’s Word during this period of Lent and the celebration of Easter. Secondly, it provides critical reflection notes and questions for discussion in such groups as the Small Christian Communities, Justice and Peace Meetings, Youth Groups, Lay movements, and various other Election discussion fora. Finally and above all, this document is intended to inspire people towards personal reflection, prayer and conversion in this Lenten and Easter Seasons. This is a pastoral initiative intended at motivating Christians during this period to think about their positive role and engagement in shaping the future of this nation.
This project would have remained on the level of the wish of the Bishops had it not been for the active participation and support of various people, groups and organizations. Thanks to their efforts and resources, we now have this document in our hands. Now, the stage is set for us as the liturgical period of Lent and Easter runs alongside the period towards the Tripartite Elections. It is not a coincidence. This is the period in which we are called to testify that the unfolding events in our country cannot be considered purely secular; they are indeed part of the unfolding story of God’s saving presence!
Rev. Fr. George Buleya
Secretary General – Episcopal Conference of Malawi
2014 is an Election Year and as such an important year for us as Malawians. The forthcoming Lenten and Easter period starting from Ash Wednesday, 5th March, 2014, is a privileged moment in which we are to pray for and ponder over the choice of leaders we want for our country.
Lent is a period of purification and enlightenment. It is a period of illumination. There are thre major areas we are asked to pay attention to:
1. Steadfastness in Prayer
Lent is the time to beg from God the courage to change our ways and believe in the Gospel. During this season of Lent, each one of us is called to begin and end the day with a prayer. Besides, we are called upon to pray before and after taking upon any task. Jesus Christ taught us to pray at all times and to pray without ceasing. Prayer is raising ourselves, heart and mind, to God; and prayer surpasses all other things. However, caution is given not to parade ourselves in the streets and to enter into temptation to recite long prayers when we pray. Our prayers should be said trusting that God is our Father who loves us at all times and is always ready to come to our aid. When we pray we, in actual fact, express our desire to do his will rather than forcing him to do what we want and wish.
In our Lenten prayers this year, we are called upon to pray for the forthcoming tripartite elections so that we may be enlightened by Him and vote for good, visionary and transformative leaders who will lead Malawi to development and prosperity.
The Lenten season challenges each one of us to forego that which brings the pleasures of the body, controlling passions and selfishness. These would include food and drink. Scriptures indicate that Jesus himself fasted for forty days. This practice and observance is an attempt to discipline ourselves and to let our hearts and mind be united with God. This helps us in the struggle and fight against evil and Satan.
Finally, the money and all the resources that we have saved as we fast are meant to be used to assist the poor and needy which include orphans and widows. This teaches us self-sacrifice. Malawians are called upon this year to vote into power in the forthcoming tripartite elections leaders who will help bring unity, justice, peace and development in the country. Let us not bring this country into the hands of bad leaders who will have no concern over the poor especially the rural masses and leaders that are selfish and busy enriching and amassing wealth for themselves. Let us be alert and not to be fooled by leaders who are making false promises of bringing cheap wealth without working for it.
The Christian Easter derives from the Israelite Passover which commemorated and re-presented the exodus which liberated the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. The Israelites celebrated the feast at night on the full moon of vernal equinox on the 14th of Abib (later Nisan). Originally, they offered to Yahweh a young male lamb or kid born that year and without blemish (Ex 12:3-6) and broken bone (Nm 9:12) to draw divine blessings upon their flocks. The blood of the lamb or kid was smeared on the doorpost as a sign of preservation. Its flesh together with unleavened bread was eaten during a rapid meal.
During Passover the Israelites remembered and made real the unforgettable event when the Angel of Yahweh passed over their houses while He struck the first-born of the Egyptians. They celebrated this feast not only to proclaim the mighty works wrought by God for them but to make present and real their liberation and national identity.
In the New Testament, Jesus celebrated the Passover before his passion and death. During the meal he took bread and changed it into his body. He also took a chalice of wine and turned the wine into his blood to be poured out for the salvation of many. Through this ritual Jesus became the new paschal lamb whose death marked a new exodus from this sinful world to the Kingdom of his Father (Jn 13:1).
The Christian Easter celebrates the Passover of Jesus from death to eternal life. Since Jesus Christ rose on the first day of the week, Christians commemorate and make present this event a day after the Jewish Sabbath. The Romans called this day “the Day of the Sun”. Christians turned it into “the Day of the Lord” (Tsiku La Mulungu) (Rev. 1:10).
Easter is the Feast par excellence for both Israelites and Christians. It challenges them to conform their lives to the events they commemorate and make present. By uniting with Christ in the Eucharist, Easter spurs Christians towards the hope of encountering him in his second coming (Parousia) (I Cor. 11:26). On Saturday prior to Easter, Christians hold a Vigil night to read the account of salvation history; baptize Catechumens as people of God; symbolise their death from sin and rising to new life; and celebrate the Eucharist. In this way, the Christian Passover stimulates each Christian to look forward to achieve the Paschal Mystery through encounter with the Lord in his passion, death and resurrection. Thus the Christian Passover marks the beginning of a journey toward the heavenly banquet.
The Forthcoming Tripartite Elections
In the forthcoming Tripartite Elections, the voter will have the opportunity to vote for a ward Councilor, a Member of Parliament and the President. In this case, it is important to articulate what the voter will have to consider before and in casting his or her vote.
Electing our candidates
The following are important factors to be considered when identifying a good candidate to represent a ward (as a Councilor), constituency (as Member of Parliament) and the country (as President).
· For Councillors, they must be known in your area, for MPs they must be known in their constituencies.
· For Councillors again, they must be familiar with your community needs.
· For the Councilors, they must be citizens of your ward, and MPs of your constituency and President of your country.
· They must have concern for the plight of the poor and the marginalized;
· They must not promise the moon but possible and achievable things within their right mandate and role as councilor, MP or President;
· They must demonstrate that they can be trusted and that they wish to serve the community and the masses;
· They demonstrate as they outline their policies and unveil their manifestos that they have a vision to transform your area and the country for the better.
Description of these three Offices
A Ward Councillor is a person elected to represent people in a council at the district or town or city level. A Councillor lives in the community and takes interest in the concerns of the people in the community or ward to do with service provision.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Councillor
To represent people in a community/ward in a council and to bring concerns that require council solutions;
To make development plans and present them to council for attention;
To lobby MPs to ensure that people in the ward receive adequate and quality national service such as electricity, security and relief;
To provide checks on council expenditure and service delivery in respect to the ward and to ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the operations of the council and give feedback to the people on council resolutions.
A Member of Parliament (M.P.) is an individual representing a territory called a constituency (an area covering two wards in rural areas or several wards in some urban areas). In Malawi we have 193 constituencies translating to 193 members of parliament.
Roles of a Member of Parliament include:
To represent people in a constituency by bringing to parliament (National Assembly) the concerns of people that require national solutions and to provide feedback to the constituency on parliamentary resolutions;
To represent local people’s interest at national level;
To oversee the functions of the state through parliamentary committees;
To debate and make national laws in the National Assembly.
A State President is an overall leader given executive powers to preside over state affairs. This is the highest leadership position in our country responsible for leading and governing the country.
Some roles of a President:
To represent all the people at national level;
To assent to bills dully passed by the National Assembly;
To provide national leadership;
To head the three arms of government namely, the Executive (the Cabinet
Ministers), Judiciary (the courts) and Legislature (the National Assembly);
To head the state and government.
Key issues for effective participation in tripartite elections.
How to cast your ballots
· There will be three ballot papers, namely, presidential, parliamentary and councilor.
· Tick three ballot papers but on each ballot tick one candidate of your choice.
· Ticking more than one candidate on a ballot paper will make the ballot paper null and void
Some important values
(a) Voters for councilors need to know clearly the boundaries of their ward for them to avoid casting their vote for a councilor in a different ward where their candidate is not available on the ballot paper.
(b) There are two wards in each of the rural constituencies except in specific urban areas.
(c) All registered voters must attend all political campaign rallies.
(d) Know the true roles of councilors, MPs and the President so as not to be confused with vain promises.
(e) It is important not to use religion, tribal and cultural identities when identifying an MP or a president whom we would like to vote for.
(f) It is not always the case that a candidate from our tribe, religion or region would be a best candidate and would have the interest of the people at heart.
(g) We are reminded to elect leaders that will transform our lives, our economy, our politics and our society.
(h) We must obey and trust God to guide us in our choice.
(i) We should elect leaders that want to bring Malawi and our areas to a new level of development and a new way of practicing politics.
9th March, 2014: FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
1. THEME: USING WELL OUR GOD-GIVEN FREEDOM
INTRODUCTION: In his great love God created us with intellect and free will. In the first reading, we hear that our forefathers misused this God-given freedom, they disobeyed God and therefore sinned by partaking of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Where our forefathers failed, Jesus triumphed over sin and Satan’s temptations because Jesus’ food was to do the will of his father. It is important that we all submit ourselves to the will of God. True joy and peace emanate from hearing and doing the word of God. Disobedience results into what scripture terms “nakedness”, that is, demoting us from the dignity of a human person to the level of beasts. Autonomy has no place in the divine economy.
2. UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
FIRST READING: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
(a) When God created human beings in his image, God meant to underline the sublime dignity proper to human beings than all other creatures;
(b) God intended that every person should be free and happy but that as a created being, his freedom is limited. God alone is the tree of life and tree of knowledge of good and evil. Knowing good and evil denotes omniscience; only God is omniscient;
(c) Temptations test our strengths not weaknesses. Could we say that the serpent approached the woman because she was more intelligent and quicker to learn?
(d) The serpent is considered subtle because:
(i) shedding its skin denotes its quest for immortality
(ii) it glides smoothly and strikes unexpectedly
(iii) it lays a lot of eggs.
(e) Sin consists of distorting God’s truth into falsehood. Ironically the only knowledge that Adam and Eve gained from eating the forbidden fruit was nakedness and shame.
PSALM: 50:3-6, 12-14, 17
All of us are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. If we repent, God will readily forgive us because of his infinite mercy.
SECOND READING: Romans 5:12-19
Paul offers a vivid contrast between Adam and Jesus. Through obedience, Our Lord Jesus defeated sin and death brought about by the disobedience of Adam. Through Jesus, death has given way to life.
GOSPEL: Matthew 4:1-11
(a) Jesus is the new Moses founding a new Israel:
(i) Just as the Israelites entered the desert after crossing the Red Sea, Jesus goes to the desert after being baptized in the Jordan;
(ii) just as the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert before entering the promised land, Jesus will spend 40 days and nights in the desert before inaugurating his ministry of salvation;
(iii) just as the Israelites were tested in the desert, Jesus will experience temptations in the desert.
(b) FIRST TEMPTATION: Greed. Satan attempts to tempt Jesus to gain popularity by making food readily available for himself and as a campaign tool. Jesus did not succumb to the temptation and employed Deuteronomy 8:3, “it is not by bread alone that people live, but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord”.
(c) SECOND TEMPTATION: Miracles. Satan tempts Jesus to be ostentatious. Let Jesus throw himself from the pinnacle of the Temple since psalm 91:11 guarantees divine protection for him. If he gets unscathed, the multitude will acclaim him as Messiah. Using Deuteronomy 6:16, Jesus reminds Satan that Scripture says “you shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test”.
(d) THIRD TEMPTATION: Idolatry. Claiming to be the sovereign lord of the world, Satan suggests that Jesus kneel and worship him in order for Satan to relinquish governance of the world to Jesus. Using Deuteronomy 6:13 Jesus categorically states “the Lord your God you shall fear; him shall you serve”.
(a) Obedience is the secret to inner happiness and tranquility. True obedience consists of hearing and doing God’s will.
(b) All human beings experience temptation with regard to self-indulgence, pride and greed for power. Let’s choose the path of love and service; Jesus is that path.
(c) Knowing Scriptures and doing God’s Word defeats temptations. Let’s be a God-fearing nation by anchoring our lives on hearing and doing God’s word.
4. TEACHINGS FROM BISHOPS’ PASTORAL LETTERS:
(a) True happiness is found in always acknowledging that we are created in the image of God and in acting as God’s children (“How to Build a Happy Nation”, 20th March, 1961);
(b) The vision of a new Malawi, expressed in the National Anthem, is “also clearly anchored on faith in God’s assistance. Our forefathers stressed that we are a God-fearing nation. Therefore our aspirations, ideals, dreams of the future and motivation for nationhood are all hinged on faith in God and inspired by the vision of God for a more humane society” (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 3);
(c) There are worrisome tendencies amongst us that push for a worldview independent of and side-lining God and making human beings dependent on their own intellect and determining for themselves what is right and what is wrong (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 9);
(d) It is imperative that at 50, every Malawian should be enjoying the conditions of social life that are brought about by the quest for the common good. The challenge before us is to see how much we have cooperated with God in realizing our dreams. We began with a dream of a politically and economically independent Malawi with God’s help, we should not attempt to realize this dream independently from God himself (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 18).
5. POINTS FOR REFLECTION:
(a) What is the source of our unique worthiness setting us apart from the rest of creation?
(b) What lessons do we learn about the linkage between freedom and obedience to God from the Garden of Eden story?
(c) What was the vision of our forefathers regarding our country vis-a-vis our faith in God?
(d) Can you give examples in the areas of laws, policies and practices, that show that Malawians have lost the original vision and its linkage with our faith in God?
(e) In what areas could we say that the fifty years of freedom in Malawi have been of benefit to Malawians?
(f) What are the indications in the current debates on abortion, artificial contraception, homosexuality, secular humanism, that show that, like Adam, our society is craving for unlimited freedom?
(g) In the light of the original vision of the country, what kind of leaders should we choose in the forthcoming Tripartite Elections?
(h) As citizens, what roles can we play to ensure that Malawi retains a vision that is God-centred?
16th March, 2014: SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT
1. THEME: JOURNEY INTO THE FUTURE
Introduction: To achieve our goals, we need to interact with others. Abram’s adventurous journey to the land of Canaan was one that would benefit others. Through Abram, all the earth’s communities will find blessings. Similarly, Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, the subject of discussion at the transfiguration, will bring salvation to the whole world.
2. UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S SCRIPTURES
FIRST READING: Genesis 12:1-4
(a) God called Abram to leave the security of his homeland and he ventured forth – from the familiar, secure and well-ordered life of his native place;
(b) Eventually, Abram’s faith and risk would be rewarded and would bring blessings for the nations of the world;
(c) Though difficult for him, Abram believed and obeyed God.
PSALM: 32:4-5, 18-20, 22
The Psalm is in praise of the faithfulness of God which underlies our hope in God’s promises and our confidence in God’s love.
SECOND READING: 2 Timothy 1:8-10
(a) Paul exhorts Timothy to accept all the unpleasant dimensions that comprise the Good News;
(b) God’s call is a gratuitous gift that reveals his eternal plan; the recipient of that gift ought to make an impact on others.
GOSPEL: Matthew 17:7-19
In Jerusalem, Jesus will meet the needs of the world through suffering and death on the cross. But his death will culminate in triumph and glory.
(a) Jesus’ appearance changes in front of Peter, James and John who will also see him in great agony in the garden of Gethsemane;
(b) The mountain is a place of encounter with God:
(i) The call of Moses and his receiving the ten commandments all happened in Mount Sinai;
(ii) Elijah after fleeing Jezebel’s plot to have him killed went to Mt. Sinai where he met God;
(iii) Jesus’ last temptation was in a mountain setting;
(iv) The Sermon on the Mount;
(v) Feeding of the five thousand;
(vi) Jesus bidding farewell to his disciples;
(c) Moses represents the Law; Elijah represents the prophets. The Law and Prophets is equivalent to the Old Testament. By speaking to Jesus, Moses and Elijah show that Jesus is fulfillment of the Old Testament;
(d) The voice from the cloud announces that Jesus is God’s beloved Son. We should listen to him. The past is gone. Let’s start anew.
(a) Like Abram, venture into new areas trusting in God: stop old habits of thought, behavior and doing things; these include: hand-outs, multiplying parties empty of ideologies, leaders with no vision; greed, graft, lies, foul language, etc.
(b) Start anew, trust God and build a new Malawi. Seek the good of one another by developing a spirit of altruism. Venture into new areas; do not drop out of society, promote and foster the common good;
(c) Like Timothy, let’s preach and witness to the Gospel without fear or shame. Let’s aim at changing people’s mentality. Let’s enlighten people to stop looking at others as foils in their climb up the professional and political ladder.
(d) Just as Jesus’ countenance changed on the mountain, let’s transform our hearts, minds, and governance of our country. Let’s rid ourselves of leaders with no vision. Life is not an ego trip. Let all communities derive blessing through you. Endure pain and frustration for the benefit of others. Your primary focus should not be on your rights but responsibilities.
(e) The Church is God’s beloved child in our days. Let’s follow what our bishops have been teaching concerning democracy over the years. Let the Liturgy inspire our lives. We receive the Word and Eucharist not only to nourish us but to nourish others as well.
(f) Unlike Peter who did not comprehend what was happening but wished to prolong the experience, let’s move on.
TEACHINGS FROM BISHOPS’ PASTORAL LETTERS
(a) Like Abram’s call to leave his homeland and Jesus in the Transfiguration, the Bishops see the forthcoming Tripartite Elections as a critical moment: “Depending on our seriousness and the commitment of those to be elected, we will either miss the opportunity to rediscover and shape our destiny or we will make the most of it.” (Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 14);
(b) The forthcoming Tripartite Elections provide us with the best opportunity for strengthening the vision of our destiny. Essentially this entails conducting elections that are free, fair and credible and electing leaders that (like Abram and Jesus) have the desire, commitment, and capability of turning our country around.
(Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 1)
(c) It is not enough to have quality leadership if this is not inspired and anchored by a national development agenda. Some development initiatives and strategies are clearly national in form and transformative in nature and, therefore, need to be depoliticised and continued irrespective of whichever government is in place.
(Strengthening the Vision of Our Destiny, 1st December, 2013, p. 11)
POINTS FOR REFLECTION
(a) How can our faith help us transform our nation?
(b) Like Abram’s journey from Haran to Canaan and Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem brought blessings to all nations, how can we ensure that we elect leaders who will bring blessings to Malawi?
(c) Just as the work of Moses and Elijah was fulfilled in Jesus, what should we do to enable that the good practices, policies and programmes meant for the national development agenda are sustained?
(d) Like Abram who was called to leave the security of his homeland, how can we identify leaders who are ready to make sacrifices for the good of our nation?
23rd March, 2014: THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
1. THEME: FULL LIFE BY REDISCOVERING THE ORIGINAL MALAWI VISION
Introduction: Running waters denote life. Just as Jesus enlighted, helped to rediscover and transformed an immoral and outcast woman who came to draw water at a well into a witness and she in turn drew her neighbors to salvation, let us also draw people to Jesus by knowing, loving, following and imitating him.
2. UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S READINGS
FIRST READING: Exodus 17:3-7
When the Israelites experienced scarcity of water in the desert, they cried to God and He gave them water from the rock.
PSALM: 94:1-2, 6-9
Let us not harden our hearts; let us become obedient people. Blessed is the one who hears and does God’s word.
SECOND READING: Romans 5: 1, 5-8
Peace and hope quench our spiritual thirst. God gives us living waters through Jesus Chist whom we know through the Holy Spirit.
GOSPEL: John 4:5-42
(a) When Jesus requested a drink of water from a Samaritan woman, she was surprised because
(i) Jews and Samaritans were sworn enemies
(ii) No Rabbi ever talked to a woman in public.
(b) Enlightened that Jesus gives living waters, the woman begged for this water. She was helprd to rediscover herself when Jesus asked her to bring her husband. The woman was forced to own to her past life of sinfulness realized that Jesus was a prophet. She immediately shifted the discussion to a place of worship. When Jesus explained that authentic worship is in spirit and truth, the woman defensively said the Messiah would reveal all that.
(c) When Jesus revealed that he was the promised Messiah, the woman left her water jar and hurried to invite her fellow villagers to meet Jesus. After Jesus spent some days with them, the villagers confessed Jesus to be savior of the world.
(a) Jesus came to reconcile human beings with God, all the people of the world as well as to improve relationships between men and women.
(b) Like the woman, we come to know Jesus gradually:
(i) a thirsty person asking for a drink
(ii) noble person
(iv) Promised Messiah
(v) Savior of the world.
(c) Jesus’ follows the following modus operandi (manner of doing things):
(i) takes persons as they are
(ii) confronts them with their dignity
(iii) transforms them into new persons
(iv) elavates them into God’s children.
(d) Jesus helps us to rediscover ourselves and attain new vision
(e) We must become new people. To do so we need to
(i) drop our old mindset
(ii) stop the culture of dependence
(iii) share our secrets, joy and vision
(iv) invite people to true life, integral development, joy, peace and fullness of life.
4. TEACHINGS FROM BISHOPS’ PASTORAL LETTERS
When we began the journey towards our independence, we dreamt of ushering in an era of inclusive, human rights respecting, politically and legally enabling and economically developed society. (Strengthening the vision of our Destiny, 1 st Dec. 2013, p. 3)
Malawians envisioned a country emancipated politically and economically. This is the vision that found its way and is clearly expressed in the National Anthem. (Strengthening the vision of our Destiny, 1 st Dec. 2013, p. 3)
In a statement issued on 29th October 1960, the Episcopal Conference of Malawi said: Our obligation to make known to all laws of God upon which every society must be built and to safeguard the human rights that have been given to all by Godand which no ruler can take away from his peple (Quoted in Strengthening the vision of our Destiny, 1 st Dec. 2013, p. 3)
While sharing and echoing the vison and wishes of the people and encouraging Catholics to take part in politics without being partisan, we only prefer that which adheres to principles of charity and justice. (Strengthening the vision of our Destiny, 1 st Dec. 2013, p. 4)
The vision of our founding fathers is part of the story of the making of Malawi and will forcefully remain to challenge all of us to play our rightful roles (Strengthening the vision of our destiny 1st December, 2013 p. 5)
5. POINTS FOR REFLECTION
On 20th May 2014, Malawians will have a chance to elect leaders who will redefine the vision of this country.
(a) What lessons do we draw from the journey of rediscovery the Samaritan woman undertook?
(b) Just as Jesus challenged the woman to shift from concentrating on physical place of worship to worship in spirit and truth, how can we ensure that we internalize our piety?
(c) What is the original vision that we would like to rediscover Malawians?
(d) Are ordinary Malawians aware of this the vison?
(e) How do we ensure that we elect leaders who own this original vision of Malawi?
(f) What should all Malawians do to share the common vision of Malawi?
(g) In the forthcoming elections, how can we vote in spirit and truth?
30 March, 2014: FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
(AMECEA Collection Sunday)
1. THEME: CHOOSING VISIONARY LEADERS
INTRODUCTION: Often times we choose by looking at mere physical appearances. Today’s readings teach us to look at a person’s heart. The main cause of Malawi’s perpetual poverty is not merely ignorance but greed of leaders. Let’s choose leaders who are transparent, ones who do not merely enrich selves or their relatives, but are visionary.
2. UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S READINGS
FIRST READING: I Samuel 16: 1, 6, 10-13
David’s father, Jesse, went for his son Eliab and his other brothers because they looked strong, handsome, intelligent and skillful. However, God preferred the weak and despised David.
Good shepherds bring sheep to green pasture