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A Holy Week Prelude: Searching for the Helpers

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Fred Rogers once told children to find the “helpers” when they were frightened and scared.

Amid a global pandemic, searching for the helpers will inspire and comfort as we discover hope amid despair.

Over 950,000 of our fellow human beings have confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, while nearly 50,000 have already succumbed to the illness.

Humans are suffering at the hands of a terrible sickness, as parts of our world grow dark from death’s sting.

As we find ourselves in perilous times, we also find ourselves searching for hope. Amid the darkness of illness and death, humans search for a beacon of light that can reveal a pathway forward.

We long for the moment when the virus itself will be a distant memory so we can once again find refuge in the proximity of others.

However, until that day, we exist in this new reality of suffering and isolation that is laced with tears and broken hearts.

It is a reality of not knowing the dangers lurking around corners or laying on the surface of counters. It is a reality we wish would go away.

With Holy Week quickly approaching, good faith people can connect with the Jesus story more this year than any before.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday triumphantly, but soon found himself isolated and suffering at the end of the week. By sundown on Friday, Jesus met death on a cross and seclusion in a tomb.

The days when Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness (Matthew 9:35) were a distant memory.

Now, the constant helper was helpless.

As people of good faith remain isolated to flatten the curve and save lives, let us find hope in the helpers of the Gospel story.

There was the owner of the donkey and colt (Matthew 21) – animals Jesus used to enter the Holy City. The owner waited for the disciples and used coded phrases to offer his help.

There was the woman with the alabaster jar (Matthew 26:6-13). She alone anointed Jesus’ head with oil, honoring and preparing him at the same time. Jesus affirms her good service to him.

There was the man with the upper room, which Jesus used for the Passover meal. The disciples secured the room when they uttered the secret saying, “The teacher says, ‘My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” The man opened the door for history.

There was Simon of Cyrene (Matthew 27:32). When Jesus could no longer carry the cross, Simon stepped in to assist him.

There was Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57). When there was no place to bury the body of Jesus after his crucifixion, Joseph offered his new tomb. He took the body and wrapped it in clean linens before sealing the grave with a rock.

Everywhere one looks within the Passion Story, helpers were present. They provided valuable resources, insightful wisdom and deep compassion.

During Holy Week when death surrounds us, let us look for the helpers.

There are doctors.

There are nurses.

There is medical staff.

There is skilled staff.

There are first responders.

There are scientists.

There are the pastors and ministers.

There are food delivery specialists.

There are volunteer mask producers.

There are family, friends and neighbors leaving hope at doorsteps.

While the Passion of Holy Week ends in death, along the journey to Calvary, we find hope.

As the death toll from COVID-19 escalates, keep looking toward the helpers. In them, we will find hope for a new tomorrow.

Mitch Randall

Mitch Randall is executive director of EthicsDaily.com.