Fear no more, O daughter Zion; see, your king comes, seated upon an ass’ colt.
Imagine this scene from the Gospel that opens our Palm (Passion) Sunday celebration. It portrays the depth to which
God has come in order to save us. God rides on a donkey.
I don’t know how close you have been to donkeys, but I’ve had a few chances to observe them. Touching one in
Honduras earned me a trip to the immigration line in the Houston airport. Donkeys are serious business!
I’m imagining the ‘Jerusalem’ donkey, so nicknamed because of its association with Christianity and Our Savior. It has a
distinctive black cross on its back, stretching across its shoulders and down its backbone. This cross makes one wonder if the legend is true,
Legend of the Donkey's Cross
" Bring me the colt of a donkey," was the Master's request.
A young donkey was brought to Jesus to carry Him into Jerusalem.
A week later Jesus was ordered to be crucified.
The little donkey so loved the Lord that he wanted to help Him carry the cross.
But, alas, he was pushed away.
The sad little donkey waited to say goodbye until nearly all had left.
As he turned to leave,
the shadow of the cross fell upon the back and shoulders of the little donkey.
And there it has remained, a tribute to the loyalty and love of the humblest of Gods creatures.
by Mary Singer
Now I’m sure that the Charles Darwin Society would not accept this as a viable explanation of how that cross ended up on the donkey’s
back, but I like to think there is some truth in it. If God made the donkey, (sorry about the ‘if’, no need for it), then He can put whatever He
wants on it. Look at the variety of animals, their markings and shapes. Look at the zebra for example, a cousin of the donkey. Wow! God is
an amazing artist. Look at the giraffe. God is a comedian, too. But then there is a practicality in all these colors and shapes that work perfectly
for God’s abundant design; just a glimpse of the heavenly realities that He wants us to see even in this life.
We read in Jonah about God’s love, even for ‘the many cattle’. Would not God want to honor, and be totally free to do so, the creatures
that gave special service to Our Savior? Somehow, the evolutionary theory, if done without reference or inclusion of the hand of God, leaves
us with a sense of nature being all-powerful and the overriding force that shapes life. In fact, this makes ‘mother nature’ (they even need to
personify it) God, which it is not.
Deeper into the legend is the truth that for those who draw near to the cross to honor Our Savior, they, and I hope that is a ‘we’, are
imprinted with His Passion as we come close to cross. We are somehow shaped by it and formed in His image through it. This is part of the
reparation for sin and acceptance of the salvation offered through the death of Christ. I say ‘reparation’ in the fullest sense of healing the
whole person effected by sin, both inherited and actual. To say that love can heal our sinfulness and win our forgiveness, we must also not
be afraid to draw close to the bloody reality of it.
Pope Benedict writes, “Only when someone values love more highly than life, that is, only where someone is ready to put life second to
love, for the sake of love, can love be stronger and more than death.” Jesus’ love on the cross should overcome our fear of drawing near. Will
we run like most of the apostles, or will we join John and Mary, Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross loving Him. Are
we afraid to be sealed, like our legendary donkey, with the sign of the cross?
Holy Week is the most beautiful week of the year to draw near to Christ’s Passion and Resurrection. During the Holy Triduum we
celebrate His life-giving institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, His suffering and death on the cross on Good Friday, and finally the
triumph over death and the grave at the Easter Vigil. Please don’t run from the cross of spending a few extra hours in Church. Not only will it
not kill you, it will give you new life. Like the donkey, the shadow of His cross will touch your shoulders as well, and declare to the whole world
that you belong now to Him.
- ▼ March (4)
- ► 2011 (50)