Those of you who attended the Palm Sunday Mass today heard the Passion according to Saint Mark. It is the briefest of the synoptic passions; even in the economy of the gospel it is incredibly rich for lectio divina. Saint Mark, for me, is a true delight to listen to and to meditate on but not because of its brevity but because of compact unity; it’s stress on evangelization. Do you remember Alec McCowen’s one-man performance in the black box of the Gospel of Mark? You should see if you have not.
From today’s proclamation of Mark’s gospel you heard mention of the donkey; an uncommon beast, or at least a beast that doesn’t garner too much respect. Seemingly it is more tolerated than truly appreciated. But you may recall, that the donkey even protects the infant Divine Babe, Jesus. Later in the Passion the donkey bears the Lord into Jerusalem that leads to the Cross, to glory.
We know from others that donkeys are used to protect cattle, but they also are recognized as being docile and friendly and they don’t eat like horses; but donkeys are instinctively hostile to wolves and coyotes. Archbishop Chaput told his evening congregation that Christians ought to be like donkeys in the daily living of the Christian life: we are to be docile (being humble, and open enough to learn from others), friendly to other Christians and to the good things of the world and yet instinctively hostile, that is, protective of those who are vulnerable toward the weak of heart, mind or body, and to protect the Truth and dignity of man and woman from being trampled. Moreover, we are to bear the Lord in every aspect of our lives.
I don’t know about you, I like donkeys; they are quite likable creatures.
GK Chesterton’s poem, The Donkey, is a fine reminder of what we celebrate today:
The Collected Poems of G. K. ChestertonDodd Mead & Company, 1927)