“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: “Do not be afraid, daughter of Sion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” (John 12:14-15). Sitting on a donkey to enter Jerusalem fulfills a prophecy of Zechariah. A prophet, speaking for God, would predict a future event. If that event came to pass, if the prophecy was fulfilled, it could confidently be seen as part of a divine plan. Jesus gives the disciples instruction that, as they carry them out, will invite them to enter more deeply into the mind of their master. Jesus not only tells two disciples to do something, he tells them exactly what will happen when they do it. Everything he says proves accurate – from where to find the colt, to what people will say, to what they should say back to people. However, the disciples of Jesus did not get the significance of this event. It was only after the death of Jesus and his resurrection appearances to his disciples that began with “Peace” did they remember and grasp the meaning of this symbolic entry into Jerusalem.
When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people are waving branches and crying out for a political king, then Jesus entering Jerusalem seated on a young donkey is a mockery of their desires, a parody of military might. Kings and generals entered conquered cities on a horse or riding in a chariot. This conveyed the crushing power that had brought the city down. If the people are looking for this type of domination, they have mistaken the identity and mission of the rider of the lowly donkey. His way of reigning does not inspire fear in people. What arrives on a young donkey is a humble king who will bring peace. We live in a world of domination. One country tries to dominate the other country with an armed force or economic influence. One company tries to dominate the competition with cutting labor cost and benefits from the workers. People try to dominate others with the position they hold. Couples dominate their partner by lying and keeping secrets. If we want peace in our life, we have to enter Jerusalem next to Jesus riding on the embarrassing donkey and yet feel proud about our identity as Catholic. Inspired by John Shea.
Father Francis Ng