I want to look at the under-appreciated character of the donkey from the gospel we used at our entrance procession. Now, the gospel tells us that it was a donkey on which no one had ever sat. So it was an unbroken donkey. Now, you and I know well enough that an untrained or unbroken animal is not the kind of animal you want sit on for a triumphal entry. And yet, how did this donkey respond? This donkey recognized perfectly well that the God of the universe had just walked into his life, and he behaved accordingly.
I suspect that for many of us, this dumb donkey responded better to the Lord's tasks than we often do. But when the Lord calls us to do something, when the Lord calls us to a level of virtue that is beyond our sinful inclinations, this donkey shows us what to do and what is to be gained. We have to let the grace of his presence fill us and bring us higher than our natural inclinations. If we accept the tasks he offers us, then we get to share in the glory he receives.
This week the Lord is inviting us to walk the rough road with him from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. He is calling us to receive the gifts of the priesthood and Eucharist on Thursday night, to walk the road to Calvary on Friday, then to wait at the tomb on Saturday. All this is in preparation for the glory of Easter Sunday. So walk the road with him this week.
To help us understand how the Lord's tasks can lead to glory, I want to leave you with a poem from the great English wordsmith G.K. Chesterton titled "The Donkey."
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.