Passion Sunday Year B - 1/4/2012 - Gospel: Mk 14,1-15,47
Riding on a donkey
In the Old Testament donkey was used mainly for labour especially in the areas of agriculture and transportation. It was used for grinding food, raising water, milling and other work. The donkey became part of Judeo cultural references expressed a higher or lower state of life such as mounting/dismounting a donkey to show a change in life. Today donkeys are used as pets or fun riding to attract tourism. Interestingly the cross-shaped vividly seen on donkey's back and shoulders is the same symbol that Jesus carried on his shoulders during his passion.

Unlike horses they are represented in the context of war. It is the symbol of the strong, the mighty and power. Jesus rode on the donkey to enter Jerusalem to say that the power is not on an animal but a person who rides on it. Jesus used an ordinary thing to achieve great things. He chose the weak to show strength. He chose the humble to show great faith in God. He chose the cross to give eternal life.  The riding on of the foal and its characteristic are useful images to help us to have a deeper understand of his suffering and death to show God's love for us. He rode on the donkey to enter the city Jerusalem to show his final victory over sin and death. The final victory is at his glorious resurrection. 

In religion donkey uses as a measure of wealth in Genesis 30, 43.  Choosing to ride on a foal Jesus identifies himself with an ordinary poor person of his time who rode on a donkey to go to work or to do their daily business. Jesus rode on a foal which was borrowed from a friend to states that he owns nothing, not even a foal. He identifies himself with the poor, the voiceless.

Donkeys are seen as working animals and beasts of burden. There is no doubt that Jesus worked very hard, from dust to dawn to heal the sick, to be in the company of the lame and blind and downtrodden. He comes to make our burden light, making our burdens to be His and carry diseases for us. The Jewish believes that the donkey is an unclean animal and does not deserve to be used to make sacrifice to God. An animal or a person we believe is not much worth for a society becomes an instrument of salvation in God's hands. We fail to see it because sin stops us from seeing in the same way as Jesus did. Jesus, a perfect obedient Son, on behalf of the human race, reconcile to God by accepting a violent death on the cross and that opens our eyes and enables us to reconcile to God. His death transforms our lives and made us righteous heir to God's kingdom.

In politic a donkey vote is a vote that simply writes down preferences in the order of the candidates (1 at the top, then 2, and so on). It is a sign of both protest and of stupidity. When the politicians at his time judged Jesus (both in his teachings and actions) they dressed him in white which was a symbol of innocent and naive, yet they gave him a death sentence.  The justice in Jesus time was in favour of the strong and the leaders, not for the weak and the voiceless.

Riding on an unbroken foal means that the foal is a small one and probably has never travelled alone on this road. This road leads to victory through the cross and it doesn't need a powerful weapon, a mighty horse or a humble, small young foul but the person who rides on it.