There are many artistic masterpieces depicting Jesus’s arrival into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday. Pietro Lorenzetti’s Entry of Christ into Jerusalem illustrates the biblical story from Matthew 21:1–11 in which Jesus asks two of his disciples to go into a nearby village and retrieve an ass and her colt. Jesus then rode these donkeys through the gates of Jerusalem. Some of the images and stories convey this entry as “triumphant,” but the donkey’s humility and service symbolize Christ’s arrival in peace rather than as a war-waging king arriving on a horse.
The significance of the donkeys – and discipleship – lives right here in our own village. Penny Bretschneider and her daughter Beth Belote lovingly care for and share with us their donkeys, Figaro and Jiminy. Originally part of the local circus, the donkeys were adopted by Beth who humbly cared for them in their migrant existence. Their gentle, humorous, agreeable and intelligent ways (they smile, hug, play, and are willing to carry a heavy load) are not unlike their owners who invite us regularly to consider the welfare of donkeys.
Yes, donkeys do carry the sign of the cross on their backs, and they are also one of the most maligned animals in God’s kingdom. I learned a lot about this through The Donkey Sanctuary.
We thank you, Beth and Penny – and Figaro and Jiminy – for reminding us of the joy that comes from making choices in the name of peace, humility, and service to all.