REFLECTIONS, APRIL, HOLY WEEK AND EASTER

Apr 6, 2017

Holy Week is a time to look into the quality of a right relationship with God.  These Holy Week reflections use Simon’s Story  as we consider how his life is linked with Jesus and his passion.  “My name is Simon and I have decided to record my story for future generations. …….”

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APRIL – WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD.  Lent and Easter and especially Holy Week are times to look into the quality of a right relationship with God, i.e. walking humbly with God.   The main focus is on Jesus, his Passion, Death and Resurrection, but the Trinity is present throughout this crucial time too.  Parishes have extra services and encourage greater devotions.   However it is an important and precious time for families and their own spirituality too.  Many Lenten sacrifices can be made and offered to the Father.   Holy Week can be an accompaniment of Jesus from Palm Sunday right through to Easter Sunday and resurrection joy.   Try to make walking with God and together as a family with God be the focus of family catechesis and faith sharing during this time.  “The spirituality of family love is made up of 1000s of small but real gestures.   In that variety of gifts and encounters God has his dwelling place.   AL315.  “If a family is centred on Christ he will unify and illumine its entire life. AL317.

HOLY WEEK REFLECTIONS  9 – 16 April 2017

INTRODUCTION.  The whole of Simon’s 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 shared how he walked his talk.  We can reflect as we walk with Simon and he walked with Jesus.   For each day of Holy Week there is a scripture passage from the Passion and a few words from Pope Francis.  

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 this 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 5 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 to hear her talking to another woman about her small baby and how their family had fled from Bethlehem.   King Herod had ordered the killing of all baby boys but the father had been warned in a dream to escape.   They had been very frightened and left everything to flee to Egypt.

I could hear the baby but I couldn’t see him. He wasn’t crying, just gurgling happily. My mother 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 him. Simon would you like to hold him?” “I’m afraid,” I said, “I’ve never held a baby.” But she said, “I’ll be there to help you.”

Something absolutely amazing happened to me as she put him into my arms. I held him and touched him, and a special feeling came over me like a veil being lifted from my eyes and I looked 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 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 eyes 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 see into their souls. 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, but after looking into so many eyes I really liked to see myself as a soul doctor.

PALM SUNDAY,  April 9. 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 that the High Priest and elders were corrupt and greedy and didn’t care about the poor, only about strict observance of the law.  Was this young man a rebel leader or was he maybe the Messiah that they people were longing for?

April 10. Monday of Holy Week.  So I, Simon, believing myself to be a just man started following the young man around, but always at a little distance.  They called him Jesus, or Teacher.  One day he would appear in the temple and preach about justice and God’s love. But he could get angry too, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and accused them of being a den of thieves. You can image that caused a great furore and I could see the hate in the eyes of the priests. Jesus always had a band of followers with him, quite a mixed group.  There were some women, but mostly men, some quite young, Some were simple people fired up with enthusiasm, others seemed more educated people serious about their mission. I always I found myself looking out for the shifty one.

April 11.  Tuesday of Holy Week.  One morning early I was out walking and came across my man Jesus alone on the hill of overlooking Jerusalem.  I stopped and watched him.  His handsome compassionate face was not smiling or angry but terribly sad as if he was weeping silently deep inside.  Was he grieving over his mission, his friends, his people?

April 12. Wednesday of Holy Week. One day I followed the group as they went up to Bethany, I was told, to the house of Lazarus.  Did he really raise this man from the dead?    And was the story about the sister pouring a whole jar of expensive ointment over Jesus’ feet not rather strange?  I heard the shifty guy complaining about a waste of money  “Give the money to the poor,” he said, “or use the ointment for embalming a body.”    Little did I know what was to follow.

April 13. Holy Thursday. Jerusalem was becoming very crowded before the Passover but there were strange undercurrents.  I could see it in people’s eyes, a restlessness, an uncertainty but a keen anticipation of the upcoming feast too.  I joined some family members for the meal as I know everyone did, but I left early and wondered down to the Garden of Gethsemane.  There was my man, my friend, as I had come to see him in my own mind, prostrate in prayerful agony while some of his group were sleeping nearby. Then suddenly  there was an invasion of soldiers, palace guards and a mob of people.  You could only call them a mob, they had been aroused by the priests and the shifty-eyed man who led the mob. They went right up and arrested my Jesus, tied him up, put handcuffs on him and dragged him away. I was shocked and terrified too and followed, as usual, from afar.  It was all greatly confusing.  First they went to the High Priest, then to Pilate the  governor,   then to Herod the king, then back to the High Priest but ended up at the Praetorium where Pilate ruled on behalf of the Roman emperor. There was shouting, and pushing and shoving.  There were obviously men planted throughout the crowd to sway their opinion. I could hardly believe that the same crowd who only a few days before had shouted for him, “Hosanna to our king,”   were now yelling “Crucify him, crucify him.”  From a distance I saw my Jesus, surely a king but with a crown of thorns, his face and body, scourged and beaten, covered by a ragged purple cloak.   He was standing silently, somehow humble still, but proud and serene in his humility.

April 14. Good  Friday.   He was to be crucified but had to carry his own cross through the streets and up to the hill of Golgotha.    Suddenly I was no longer shy or afraid. I was on fire and pushed through the crowd as they moved off and at last I got up quite close. Close enough for the soldier next to him to drag me from the crowd and yell, “hey you, lend a shoulder here, before this man collapses and we are denied our bit of fun.” That was the moment of my life, the greatest gift I ever experienced. As I came forward and picked up his burden and looked into his eyes, a flash of recognition passed between us. We remembered and I knew at last. These were the first eyes I had ever looked into.   His baby body had been the first tiny burden I had carried. Now I was being honoured that I could share the God-man’s final burden.

Naturally I stayed close from then on and pulled my weight for all I was worth.  I stood silently in the mocking crowd and loved him all those hours as slowly and painfully he breathed his last. There were not many friendly faces there and at one stage I saw the shifty guy running like a madman. I stood by when they took his broken body down from the cross, laid him in the arms of his mother and saw how they finally put him in the tomb of one of his rich but secret followers.

April 15. Easter vigil. I wasn’t sure what to do after that.  It seemed such a let down. I went back to my cousin’s house feeling lost and abandoned. I thought of all the faces, all the eyes I had seen.  Jesus’ eyes haunted me the most.  There was terrible pain, of course,  but there was also a quiet resignation, as if his work was done. Somehow my heart was still so filled with love that I felt a strange kind of peace, knowing that this could not be the end.

April 16. EASTER – RESURRECTION.  The next day I had to go back home to continue my work, but I heard and believed that he had truly risen from the dead.  He comes to me sometimes in dreams or even waking dreams. Sometimes his eyes are sad, sometimes kind and tender, sometimes bright and filled with light. After all he is the light of the world, a light I have carried with me ever since.

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