March 24 – Palm Sunday

Would you rather go for a Donkey or a Horse?

     On Palm Sunday, we begin our celebration of Holy Week, the final week in the life of our Lord.  Holy Week begins Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and culminates with his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Week is the most sacred time in the Christian Year as we are called to holiness, just as the name points out. It reminds us of Jesus’ call to perfection in Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. The call to holiness is a call to follow Jesus closely. This involves following his example of choosing a donkey instead of a horse.

    By entering Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus fulfils the Old Testament prophecies such as that from Zechariah 9:9, which speaks of the Messiah coming humbly on a donkey. Moreover, he makes a powerful but silent reply to the hopes of many people waving branches and welcoming him with royal acclamation. For parents, the favorite moment of the day typically is or was coming home from work and having your kids run to greet you. This is exactly how the people in Jerusalem greeted Jesus, and how we should greet him too. Just like the enthusiastic crowd, we should welcome Jesus in our hearts with shouts of praise and adoration. This is the contagious nature of genuine worship and the importance of celebrating Jesus as our King, even in uncertainty and challenges.

      Jesus rode on a donkey to underscore his humility, choosing a simple donkey rather than a majestic horse, which was customary for kings and conquerors. True greatness often comes from humility and service rather than power and prestige. Did Jesus deserve a horse? Yes, he did. But a servant chooses a donkey – the way of the cross – instead of the horse of a conqueror. The donkey – Jesus’s donkey, always offers our hearts the chance to say, “How can I choose love over pride? How can I use my gifts to serve others? How can I share my blessings with the world?”. The metaphor of the donkey answers the question, “who is this Jesus?” He is the one who dies so others can live. The horse – the King’s horse, always tempts our hearts to say, “I did better than the rest of my friends. I’m smarter, and I have more natural gifts, God favored me!” Humble yourself and go find a donkey!

Topher Otieno