Holy Week and Easter 2020 are likely to be the most unusual experience ever, due to the scourge of the corona virus and the suffering that is bringing across the whole world.  Many churches will be closed to the People of God but the liturgies can be followed in our missals.  These reflections below, built around SIMON’S STORY, are offered as an additional resource to families.  Other materials e.g. A Family Reconciliation service and a Family Prayer Meal and more are available on www.marfam.org.za

INTRODUCTION to SIMON’S STORY.  The whole story can be read before Holy Week but after the first part it can also be broken up day by day over those crucial days. The story is quite simple and is suitable for families with children too. Simon is sharing how he walked his talk.  We can reflect as we walk with Simon and he walked with Jesus. Each day of Holy Week is based on a scripture passage from the Passion narrative with a few words from Pope Francis added.  

SIMON’S STORY.   My name is Simon and I have decided to record my story for my grandchildren so that they will learn something very important about my life and the lives of many millions of people to come.   Why is my story important?   Because throughout Christian history my name will be remembered.  But the simple mention in the gospels is only part of the story. It began many years ago.

I had been born blind and that was a great cross for my family who were godfearing people.   They worried about who had been a sinner and what sin had been committed that had resulted in their having a blind child. Which of the many laws of the Jewish people had been broken?  They frequently prayed and offered sacrifices when they could.

On one occasion when I was 6 years old they were on their way to Jerusalem from Cyrene when they stopped at an oasis where many other families rested.   I followed my mother around and was shocked when I heard her talking to another woman about her small baby and how their family had fled from a place called Bethlehem.  King Herod had ordered that his soldiers must kill all the baby boys in the town. They were lucky because the father had been warned in a dream to escape.  Of course they had been very frightened and left everything and were on their way to Egypt.

I could hear the baby but I couldn’t see him. He wasn’t crying, just gurgling happily. My mother then told of her own concern for me, her blind child.  I heard them talking about sin and then the other lady said, “No, it isn’t sin but an ordinary human thing, something went wrong in the body, not the mind or heart.” Then she continued, “My baby is very special. God has been really good to us.  Simon would you like to hold him?” “I’m scared,” I said, “I’ve never held a baby.”  But she said, “don’t worry, I’ll be there to help you.”

Something absolutely amazing happened to me as she gently put him into my arms. I held him close and as I touched him, a special feeling came over me, like a veil being lifted from my eyes and suddenly I was able to look down into his tiny face.  It was a most beautiful little face. I couldn’t stop looking into his little eyes.  Now I understand that they were filled with love, like his mother’s eyes too.  I looked up and around me and for the first time I could see people of all kinds.  Their eyes all looked different.  Some were smiling and looked happy like my mom and dad, especially my dad.  I saw wonder and gratitude in his eyes.  My mother’s eyes were too filled with tears. Many other eyes of people around there looked worried or just rushed.

Over the years as I grew up I often remembered that moment and the tenderness and love in the eyes of the baby and his mother. I used to look into people’s eyes and somehow I could see into their souls.  So I decided to become a doctor and wished I could help people who were blind. I did help wherever I could, with my family’s help, and after looking into so many eyes I really liked to see myself as a soul doctor.

PALM SUNDAY,  April 5. Many years later I was visiting Jerusalem and had a sense that something important was happening.  There was some kind of march going on with many people singing and chanting, “Hosanna, to the Son of David.”  As I stood and watched people started waving palm branches and laying them down in the road.  A man seated on a donkey appeared to be their hero. l found that strange so I wanted to find out more.   Some of those close to him looked proud and happy and almost everyone looked excited but I saw that there was one young man whose eyes looked shifty and uncertain.

I asked around what was going on and people told me they were hoping for a new king to rule their people once again.  They wanted him to overthrow the Romans.  Some people said he was against the injustice in our own Jewish religion.  They said the High Priest and elders were corrupt and greedy and didn’t care about the poor, only about observance of the law.  Was this young man a rebel leader or was he maybe the Messiah that the people were longing for?

When he entered Jerusalem all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” and the crowd said, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”  Matt 21:11. 

Pope Francis:  The gospel is about the Kingdom of God ; it is about a loving God who reigns in our world. Jesus’ mission is to inaugurate the kingdom of his Father.  EG180.

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