In Praise of the Donkey

“The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel! Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written: 15’Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’ ”

John 12:12-15

“The world tells us to seek success, power, and money. God tells us to seek humility, service, and love.”

Pope Francis

What do you think was going through people’s minds when this man they were praising as the King made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey? That’s not how it was supposed to be. Kings rode impressive warhorses. But not Jesus. Master of paradox that he was, he really knew how to send his message. He was saying, look, what matters in life is a lot more than what you see on the surface. It really isn’t about impressing other people – or even about impressing yourself. It’s about something altogether different.

Jesus faced that right after he was baptized. At that point he was feeling God’s Presence. After all God had said right in front everybody, “This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus was feeling the spiritual power within him. He knew he had a mission and a gift to give. But he wasn’t yet whole. He wasn’t yet ready to be of service. There was one more step. He had to come to grips with the true purpose of power. So Jesus was led by his inner light out into the wilderness to meet himself. He went to encounter what in him still wanted to take the easy road—to perform cheap tricks and amass a world class Twitter following. One by one Jesus entertained the beguiling possibilities available to him. He pondered on how he could make them happen. And one by one he made the choice to turn away and instead walk the path of spiritual values.

Jesus kept choosing the donkey—the true self. Not grand, not impressive—but sturdy, loving, authentic, connected to the goodness of life, grounded in the everyday actions that bring forth joy and creativity and move us forward. Jesus found out about real power—the power to serve, to love, the power to heal. And then he rode that donkey into Jerusalem and gave his gift to all of us.

In the Love and Light of the Christ,

Rev. Anna


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