Last Sunday, March 19, was the third Sunday in Lent on both the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Church calendars. The first and second lessons for Episcopalians had to do with water. The Old Testament lesson, from Exodus 17, showed the Israelites bitterly quarreling with Moses over thirst—until God told Moses to strike the rock at Horeb, and water came gushing out.
The New Testament lesson came from John 4, in which the disciple recorded Jesus’ meeting with the woman of Samaria at the well. He asked her for a drink of water. In utter surprise, she responded, “How do you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for water? Jews and Samaritans have no dealings.”
Jesus told her, “If you knew who was asking you for water, you would have asked him for living water which, when you drink it, you will never thirst again.”
She asked Him for some living water. “Go and call your husband,” Jesus told her.
“I have no husband.”
“You are right. You have had five husbands, and the one you are living with now is not your husband.”
Shocked that this total stranger knew so much about her, she said, “I believe you are a prophet. Samaritans know that a Messiah is coming, who knoweth all things.”
Said Jesus to her, “I that speakest to thee am He.”
The woman immediately left Him and her bucket, hurried to her village and told the people, “Come see a man who told me all that I ever did. Might that be the Messiah?”
The people came to see Jesus and immediately believed He was indeed the Messiah. They invited Him to spend at least two days with them, which He did.
What was the whole point of this story?
The young priest at St. Stephen Episcopal Church, the Rev. Wozeyan Bazzie, in his sermon last Sunday, told the congregation that the whole point of that story was RECONCILATION. Jesus, Rev. Bazzie said, was determined to reconcile the Jews and the Samaritans.
While His disciples were all gone to town to buy food, Jesus made a deliberate attempt to visit Samaria just at the time the woman had come to the well for water. He made her His primary point of contact to execute His mission to reconcile the Jews and the Samaritans.
What in the world has this story to do with Liberia’s 2017 elections? Everything, in our view.
Let us remember that it was not just the Jews and Samaritans that Jesus came to reconcile, but the entire human race—He came to bring reconciliation between God and humankind, and humankind among themselves, as in the case of the Jews and Samaritans.
Elections, as we saw in the United States late last year, can be bitterly contentious. But it can also be, especially in the case of Liberia, a wonderful time to promote peace and reconciliation.
From where we at the Daily Observer sit, we sense a tremendous degree of enthusiasm and optimism in these coming elections.
There are scores of independent candidates vying for seats in the House of Representatives, and at least eight persons vying for the presidency.
But there are quite a few candidates, notably former Central Bank Executive Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones, former Ambassador to the United States Jeremiah Sulunteh and now, believe it or not, even Harrison Karnwea, who are facing a serious dilemma. They all have the Code of Conduct hanging over each of them like “the sword of Damocles.”
Yet all of them and others are very busy, and with great enthusiasm, organizing their campaigns.
Governor Jones completed his two-terms as CBL Executive Governor last year, and later announced that he was seeking the presidency. He does not feel that he is affected by the Code of Conduct because while he was yet Governor he had told no one that he was planning to run for president. So he strongly feels he is unaffected by it.
Both Ambassador Sulunteh and Mr. Karnwea have only recently resigned their posts—a far cry from the three years that the Code of Conduct demands of Executive appointees seeking elective office.
Governor Jones, Ambassador Sulunteh and Managing Director Karnwea are all reputable and accomplished citizens of Liberia who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the many positions they have held over the years. So why do we want to deny them the opportunity to serve their country on a totally unnecessary and contrived (artificial, manufactured) technicality?
The whole world knows that Liberia has for a very long time been plagued with poor leadership. This has been our biggest problem. Now that we have a historic opportunity to effect a democratic transition from one elected administration to another, why are we trying to limit the playing field when on the entire landscape there are already so few credible candidates?
Liberia’s leaders must realize that the coming 2017 elections provide an excellent opportunity to reunite and reconcile Liberia and Liberians. Let us not miss this golden opportunity by sowing seeds of division in the country and thereby threatening the very elections with unnecessary discord.