Entry into Jerusalem by Pedro de Orrente
The Holy Gospel for the Blessing of the Palms: Matthew 21:1-9
At that time, when they drew nigh to Jerusalem and were come to Bethphage, unto Mount Olivet, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them: "Go ye into the village that is over against you: and immediately you shall find an ass tied and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to me. And if any man shall say anything to you, say ye that the Lord hath need of them. And forthwith he will let them go." Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: "Tell ye the daughter of Sion: 'Behold thy king cometh to thee, meek and sitting upon an ass and a colt, the foal of her that is used to the yoke.' "
As the donkey and her colt travel to meet Jesus, they might have wondered (had they been able to think such thoughts), “Is it worth it?” To leave behind what they knew – their work, their family, their home – to go into the unknown. But to serve Christ is always worth it; to serve Christ is to be drawn into an intimate communion with Him.
They might have thought, too, “Why me?” Why the humble, lowly donkey, and not the majestic, proud horse? Why is it I that the Lord picks, and not another person, when they might seem better qualified to serve the Lord as a religious? But the Lord has reasons which we cannot always see behind the person He calls to Himself.
And what does He give as His reason? “I have need of you.” God has no needs, strictly speaking, but He chooses to depend upon us to carry out His work.
The donkey is one “that is used to the yoke”. So often we are burdened by the yoke of the world, the heavy burden; but Christ calls us to Himself and we take up His yoke – the yoke that is sweet and light (Mt 11:28-30).
After the disciples bring the donkey and her colt to Jesus, they “laid their garments upon them”. As we are naturally, dirty with sin, we are unworthy to serve the Lord; but when we have white garments laid upon us in Baptism, then Christ can “sit thereon”, dwell within us. He gives us our mission, our vocation, on the day we are baptized, when God’s life – sanctifying grace – is given to our souls.
What dignity, then, is the donkey given! To carry Christ the King into His city of Jerusalem. The crowds do not cheer because of the donkey, but because of Whom the donkey is carrying on her back. In the same way, we as religious do not seek to glorify ourselves, but to bring glory to the King of Heaven by our humble service to Him. No greater gift, no higher dignity, can Jesus call us to, then to be close to Him – to carry Him on our backs – to serve Him in our vocation as religious."
An aspirant kisses the cross on the day of her reception