St Stephen’s Lewisham
Palm Sunday 2009

The Donkey

[On Palm Sunday, St Mark tells us that: Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, 'Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied there, on which no one has ever sat; untie it and bring it. And they found a colt tied at the door out in the open street; and they untied it and brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it.]

It was appropriate that Jesus should choose a donkey for His entry into Jerusalem, because the hair along a donkey’s back is shaped in the form of a Cross; and Jesus knew well that the week which began with his triumphal reception would become one where those welcoming shouts of ‘Hosanna!’ which greeted Him, would undoubtedly change into cries of ‘Crucify him!’.

So much then for public opinion. If Christians expect always to meet with approval and popularity from our fellow men we are soon going to be in for a nasty surprise. If that’s the way they turned against our Lord and Master then they will certainly treat us no better.

In several ways we resemble the donkey on which Jesus rode into Jerusalem. In our baptism we were marked with the sign of the Cross to remind us that we should not be ashamed to profess the faith of Christ crucified. But, and even more importantly, he has chosen us to carry Him into the midst of the people of Lewisham and wherever else we go about our daily lives.

Just think of that! Whether we like it or not you and I are the ‘Jesus-carriers’ of the 21st Century. Whatever we do, things great or small, deeds virtuous or sinful, Jesus will be judged in the popular mind not principally by what He did or said, but by what we ourselves do and say in public and in private. In the public eye, when you or I do what is virtuous, Jesus is glorified; when we sin, the glory of God is diminished. What a responsibility – but what an opportunity!

And before we start saying ‘I couldn’t do that. I can’t be a Jesus-carrier. I’m no good at that sort of thing’ just remember: the donkey which Jesus chose to carry Him into Jerusalem had never been ridden by anyone before. But Jesus knew what she (and you and I) are capable of.

Be Thou, O Lord the rider, And we the little ass, That to God’s Holy City, Together we may pass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DONKEY
 G.K. Chesterton


When fishes flew and forests walked 
And figs grew upon thorn, 
Some moment when the moon was blood 
Then surely I was born; 

With monstrous head and sickening cry 
And ears like errant wings, 
The devil's walking parody 
On all four-footed things. 

The tattered outlaw of the earth, 
Of ancient crooked will; 
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, 
I keep my secret still. 

Fools! For I also had my hour; 
One far fierce hour and sweet: 
There was a shout about my ears, 
And palms before my feet. 

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