Choosing meekness leads us toward union with Trinity

| Deacon Andrew Windschitl | March 26, 2015 | 0 Comments


The Roman soldiers, who among their other acts of violence against Jesus placed a crown of thorns on his head, were correct about one thing: He is a king. This painful irony is not lost on us, especially when we pray the third sorrowful mystery of the rosary.

Of course, there is nothing normal about a king being crowned with thorns. But Jesus’ kingship has not been normal according to any human standards.

In the Gospel on Palm Sunday, Jesus advises two of his disciples to obtain for him a colt in a nearby village. St. Mark does not specify what kind of colt this animal is, but according to St. Matthew, it is a donkey. Why do we make the distinction?

Consider that a young horse is also called a colt, and Jesus could choose to ride into Jerusalem on one as opposed to a donkey. However, it is a triumphant warrior king returning to his kingdom after conquering an opponent who rides a horse. This was the kind of king that the other Jews of his time were expecting — somebody to deliver them from Rome. But Jesus, triumphant though he is, chooses to ride a donkey, an animal that is often seen as humble.

The connection is unmistakable: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). He sends the message that all he has done and all that he is about to do is not for his glory as much as it is to glorify the Father, who sent him on this mission. And the goal of this mission is not to conquer the world but to save it.

As both the Son of God and the son of man, Jesus Christ is the only person who can accomplish such a task. The fact that he requests a colt on which no one has ever sat attests to his unique role as the Messiah. Up to his time, there has not been anyone like him, regardless of the popularity that his ancestor King David enjoyed. By contrast, Jesus Christ’s victory is not measured so easily in worldly terms because the sin and death that he conquered are not so easily quantified.

There are a couple questions with which we might pray: Do we choose to ride the horse, seeking glory for ourselves, instead of the God who gave us our very life and holds out to us the gift of eternal life? Or do we choose to ride the donkey, humbling ourselves in the sight of God, knowing by whom it has already been ridden?

One of the first things that Pope Francis said after his election was, “The Lord never tires of forgiving.” So even if we have chosen the horse, we can get off and get on the donkey. Doing so sets us, like Jesus, on a path toward many challenges, but also ultimately to union with him and the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Deacon Windschitl is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa. His teaching parish is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hastings. His home parish is St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines.

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