The Man on the Donkey


This Gospel has a harsh tone and impact. The city will not have one stone upon another. The city’s enemies will totally annihilate them. The city’s population will be slaughtered. All because the city did not know the time of its visitation.

I have no idea what this means.

I’m not a biblical scholar. So I looked up the chapter in the Gospel according to Saint Luke for a little context. Turns out the city is Jerusalem. And Jesus speaks this way after He goes in on the donkey for Palm Sunday to the tune of Hosannah. The pharisees told Jesus to shut his followers up, calling Him the Son of God. Well, He replies that the stones would speak if the people weren’t. But then we get back to this. Him drawing near to Jerusalem, the city. THE city. The place of promise, the capital of Judah, the stronghold of the Jews despite the Roman occupation. How much pride and passion He must have felt approaching it. The biggest Jewish city in the world.

Jerusalem is me, here. Jerusalem is you. We know Christ. He is our Peace. He is our Savior. He is here ; it’s the time of our visitation by Him. He is here.

And we don’t know it. We hide from it. I hide from it. I slough off my spiritual life to Sundays, and even then, sometimes I’m at the straggler’s 5pm mass because I couldn’t bring myself to rouse the baby from his nap to join my husband and the big kids at morning mass. I try to pray, but then get distracted by my emails. I start a Rosary, but then have to check Facebook.

It’s embarrassing. Christ is coming toward me on a donkey with palm bearers and the like, and I’m purposefully oblivious. Being a cradle Catholic is enough, right? I teach my kids their prayers. We talk about God every day. But what about my heart?

It’s almost Advent season. The four week spiritual boot camp for Christmas. The tiny sliver of the liturgical year that packs a mean punch. I do not want to be spiritually annihilated by the cares of this world. I do not want to be the city whose pregnant mothers will be dashed to the ground along with their children within. I want to turn my head and heart back to the Man on the donkey. And be ready for my visit from Him. Prepare ye the way of the Lord and make straight His path. Get on it, you and me. Get out the advent calendar and wreath soon. Get out the spiritual books. Set the internet down. And be ready.

photo credit: Madeline Hill

Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.

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