A lot has already been said about the pastoral letter by Catholic bishops, a tradition that has spanned over the past three decades. I will not bore you with the details but allow me to touch on something within the letter that I felt needed to be highlighted and it was aptly captured on page 3 in the second paragraph under the title ‘The dignity of the human person and the unity of the humankind’:
“Vast numbers of men, women and children are today, like Lazarus in the Gospel (Luke 16,19-31), languishing in abject poverty while wealth and luxury are enjoyed by a few who are unconcerned about these dehumanising conditions of the majority”
In the interest of time, permit me to reproduce that passage from Luke, as you might have noticed by now, I am a great admirer of the King James Version:
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, in this small but important portion and indeed that small segment of the pastoral letter, a lot has been laid out which is synonymous with the various struggles that Malawians are going through. Life is very tough out here for a lot of people.
As expounded recently by the Centre for Social Concern, even the average cost of living for a family has risen significantly beyond the reach of many people. Now the politician who not long ago was on his knees, begging the common man to grant him or her a vote during elections, has seemingly lost the campus and has instead hoped into bed with the kingpins of corruption who, for lack of a better description, has them ’by their balls’ (pardon my French).
It makes no sense for the majority to be busy scrambling for crumbs falling off the table of the privileged few who, without remorse, have shown total disregard to the overall wellbeing of ordinary Malawians
Just like Abraham said to the rich man ‘And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed’, there is still a yawning gap between the rich and the poor in this country and those entrusted to oversee the affairs of the State have, shamelessly, provided fertile lands upon which this seed has geminated.
Aside from the fact that the government, through spokesperson Gospel Kazako, was gracious in its reaction following the pastoral letter, President Lazarus Chakwera needs to seriously reflect on the contents and must figure out why the country appears to still be going in circles.
Until that is done, many Malawians will continue to suffer in abject poverty, something akin to living life the biblical Lazarus way.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).