Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Final Week of Jesus - Of Donkeys and Papamobils

Five hundred years before Jesus fulfilled them on Palm Sunday, prophet Zachariah penned these words:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9

A king… riding on a donkey?!!!

Only a few days ago we had an opportunity to see freshly inaugurated Pope Francis cause quite a stir by going against Vatican's procedures and traditions when he chose to ride a bus rather than the papamobil. The actions of the new pope are so refreshing because they go against the established religious and political institutions where those in power enjoy certain rights and privileges and generally take full advantage of them.

Jesus turned this world of power and entitlement upside down. When His disciples were arguing over which one of them was the greatest, He changed the playing field altogether:

The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the youngest, and he who governs as he who serves. Luke 22:24-26
Sadly, we Christians haven't modeled this very well through our spotty history.  My own dad, who had been raised in a Catholic family, became an atheist when he observed greed and hypocrisy of those who named the name of Christ. 

If anything was being served, the young boy noticed,  it was the priests' insatiable appetites.

Pope Francis recently said that authentic power is service.  One might also add that true, authentic service is the real power. Through genuine service we touch each other in the most profound ways, restoring value and dignity to God's sin-ravaged creation. Authentic service is never about earning God's favor or building a resume and a reputation.  It's always and only a tiny reflection of God's own heart towards His hurting, broken, needy world.

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