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.

GK Chesterton, The Donkey

Image: Christ's Entry into Jerusalem
Artist: Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (March 1809 – March 1864) was a 19th-century French painter
Date: 1846
Location: Church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris

Matthew 21:5 relates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem
21:5. ”Tell the daughter of Zion: Behold your king comes to you, meek and sitting upon a donkey and a colt, the foal of her that is accustomed to the yoke.”
to Zechariah 9:9:
9:9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD YOUR KING will come to you, the just and Savior: He is poor, and riding upon an donkey, and upon a colt, the foal of an donkey.
Why did Jesus ride a donkey & a colt?

Cornelius a Lapide’s commentary on the passage explains that Christ first rode the donkey up and down the mount and then transferred and rode the colt into the city.

Perhaps there is a practical explanation: the donkey would be stronger and more capable for the terrain. The colt would be able to bring him into the city easily.

Yet there is a mystical signification is this as well. The donkey and her colt signify “the two sorts of people of which the world is made up—the Jews, accustomed to the yoke of the Mosaic law, who were represented by the ass; and the Gentiles, living up to this time without the Law of God, and who were denoted by the colt.”

The donkey represents Mother Israel who has been burdened with the Law of Moses. Saint Peter our first Pope described the Mosaic Law as “a yoke…which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10).

The young colt represents the new and untrained Gentiles – the wild olive branch that the Apostle describes as the Gentiles.

Christ our Lord rode both to signify that both the Jews and the Gentiles were called to be Christophoroi – Christ-bearers.


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