On the Back of a Donkey
An ordinary donkey carried God to His Kingdom. Our Lord enters into Jerusalem today, an entrance symbolizing His entrance into our hearts, our parish community, and the Heavenly Kingdom. Today renews the importance of the life to which we are called. But we cannot forget, in all the grandness of Palm Sunday, Christ arrives on a donkey.
"Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).
Palm Sunday gives us a vision of the struggle for purity. Today, Christ enters into Jerusalem, symbolizing his entrance into our heart. The last forty days of fasting help us realize how distracted we are. Rather than hearts fixed on Christ, our hearts are fixed on our stomachs. We are so busy chasing after pleasures through the day. God becomes distant. Our only hope is real repentance, when we invite Christ to pass through the gates of our heart.
“And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed them…[They] cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord.”
Palm Sunday gives us a vision of our struggle as community. We process forward as a body. We share our crosses together as we share our palm branches. We walk forward together in life as we walk forward in today’s procession. We do not come to God as individuals. We come to Him as family. This is our chief worship. God cherishes all our hymns and prayers. Most of all, he looks to see whether we worship Him through love and support. Today, our Palm Sunday ritual imprints a vision of our road together in the years ahead.
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).
Palm Sunday gives us a vision of the day Christ and His saints enter New Jerusalem. Our attachments to this world have no more place in our life. Our worries, our obsessions, belong behind us, in the dust of the wilderness. This is the purpose of Lent. It is supposed to break us a little. It make us tired and hungry, like an old man on his death bed. Nothing else is left; nothing, except eternity. We knocked on the gates of our church today, as we will knock on the gates of death, yearning to enter the next life. Palm Sunday invites us to take up this vision in Holy Week and Pascha. Keep your hearts on heavenly things.
Having said all this, there is an important detail here that cannot be overlooked. Christ enters Jerusalem on a donkey. Our life in Christ is much more pragmatic than mystical. Spiritual transformation happens in the ordinary day to day. May God give us humility like the donkey to work out our salvation in the little things.
Have a blessed Holy Week and a beautiful Resurrection.