In the first Gospel, we reenact our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, when he rides in triumphantly, seated on a donkey. This was foreshadowed when David had his son Solomon mount his royal donkey and ride into Jerusalem to take possession of his kingship. So now God the Father has his Son mount a donkey so as to ride into Jerusalem to take possession of his eternal kingship. This would fulfill also the prophecy of Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).

St. Josemaría loved this scene of the Gospel, where Christ manifests his humility by riding the gentle donkey. He would imagine himself as that beast of burden, offering his King the use of his life and strength: “If Jesus’ reign in my soul, in your soul, meant that he should find it a perfect dwelling place, then indeed would we have reason to despair. But “fear not, daughter of Sion; beloved, your king is coming, sitting on an ass’ colt” (John 12:15). Don’t you see? Jesus makes do with a poor animal for a throne. I don’t know about you; but I am not humiliated to acknowledge that in the Lord’s eyes I am a beast of burden: ‘I am like a donkey in your presence, but I am continually with you. You hold my right hand’ (Psalm 72:23), you take me by the bridle” (Christ Is Passing By,181). Let’s let Christ reign over us through our work and study, in our friendships and family relationships. Christ reigns by offering him our life in service, just as did that donkey for Christ.

The second Gospel-the Passion of our Lord-also is about Christ’s kingship. Christ marches into Jerusalem in order to be enthroned on the Cross. As St. Josemaría writes in the Way of the Cross:

Pilate delivers a mock verdict: Ecce rex vester–Behold your king! Infuriated, the chief priests say: We have no king but Caesar… Inert, Jesus submits to the tortuous verdict as the massive cross crushes his shoulders. Yet love turns this ignominious cross into a royal throne.

Lord, your friends, your subjects… where are they? For over twenty centuries they have avoided you and your throne, the holy cross; now your only entourage is blood, grief, solitude, and an insatiable hunger for souls. (From station 1, meditation 4 and station 2)

Christ freely embraces the Cross, because by the Cross he redeems us and the whole world. Holy Week is a wonderful time to accompany him, to experience his great love for you and me. Don’t be afraid and let his love conquer you. Let him rule over your heart and soul, over your body and your time. Then you will experience the joy of Christ’s kingship, the joy of the Cross!

Happy Holy Week!
-Fr. John Waiss