READ: MT 21:1-11
When Jesus and the disciples drew near Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them here to me. And if anyone should say anything to you, reply, 'The master has need of them.' Then he will send them at once." This happened so that what had been spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: Say to daughter Zion, "Behold, your king comes to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden." The disciples went and did as Jesus had ordered them. They brought the ass and the colt and laid their cloaks over them, and he sat upon them. The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road. The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest." And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, "Who is this?" And the crowds replied, "This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee."
Throughout the past two weeks of Lent the Gospels have been inviting us to meditate on Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. A journey that will culminate with the most significant events of our faith. On Thursday, Jesus will fulfill the Passover by consecrating the Eucharist as himself, and the Apostles as priests. That evening, he will be betrayed with a kiss, abandoned and denied by his friends, and left to suffer the abuse of the Jewish authorities. On Friday, he will be tormented and be killed. In his death, death will die and the new covenant will be ratified in his blood. Saturday he will "descend into hell" into Gehenna, the waiting place of the righteous souls who died under the old covenant, and set them free. On Sunday he will rise. These days we call "Holy Week" because they are just that: Holy. We can think of it as a journey within a journey. Everything in Jesus' life, in God's plan for salvation, in the scheme of eternity, leads up to this week. The week where Jesus, like a divine acrobat, will tumble through lowest depths of human nature and rise up victoriously with our souls in tow. So how does our Lord begin this process of changing everything? By riding a donkey.
Doesn't seem like a great way to signal the beginning of the most profound week of his life, or ours. We know you're into the whole "humility" thing Lord, but really, a donkey? Yes. A donkey. Why? Because in ancient cultures, there were two ways a king could enter a city. The first was on war horse. Usually this was a result of a hostile takeover. His horse was a sign of his ruling power, and the establishment of his authority. The second way a king could enter a city was on a donkey. Signifying his meekness, and humility. Riding a donkey was the equivalent of a ruler saying, "I come in peace". How important then that Jesus enters Jerusalem in this way. In a few days, the people laying down palms, and singing his praises will betray him, mock his royalty, and kill him. Jesus knows he will suffer violence, but it's not through war that he intends to conquer sin and death. It's through his divine, supernatural love.
Jesus wants to enter our hearts the same way he enters Jerusalem in our reading today. In peace.
He knows our inconsistency. Our tendency to laud and love him in one moment, then doubt and desecrate him in the next. Yet still, he comes in peace. He knows how easily, and how often, we turn against him in the face of discomfort and sacrifice. Yet still, he comes in peace. Jesus, our divine king, does not come to break our will to live, but to restore our will to love. He wants to conquer the Jerusalem of our souls through his Holy Spirit. He wants to make us loyal and loving through his grace.
Let's thank God today that where we want to war with him, he only offers peace. Let's thank him that destruction was not the solution he devised for our disobedience. Today, let us surrender to the king who wins wars through peace; and, in gratitude let's shout with the people "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.".
Take a moment and invite Jesus into your heart. Thank him for coming in peace.
How can you imitate Jesus' offer of peace today in own own life and relationships?
How can you be meek and humble like him?
R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: "He relied on the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him." Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. They divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. But you, O LORD, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. I will proclaim your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise you: "You who fear the LORD, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him; revere him, all you descendants of Israel!" R. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
What had God convicted you of in prayer today?