“You will find a tethered colt that no one has yet ridden. Untie it…”
In order to see, we need eye and light. After the blind man’s healing, this scene is the light in order to discern who the Lord is. The first of the six days of Jesus in Jerusalem begins. It is the beginning of the new creation that will end on the sixth day on the Cross. There at last, we shall see the new man, the true face of God and that of the Son. In one of the Palatine hill graffiti, there is the image of a crucifix with the head of an ass and the caption: “Alexamenus worshiping his God.” It is not a blasphemous image, but the most adequate image of Jesus who was killed because of blasphemy (Mark 14:64).
In fact, Jesus is Lord, Christ and Supreme Judge because of the very fact that He was killed. The Cross is the infinite distance that God has placed between Himself and any of our representation of Himself. He is a crucified God, whose only purpose is to love and to give, to the point of putting Himself into the hands of everybody, without judging or condemning anyone. This image of the ass heals us from the satanic image of God that we all have, including Saint Peter (Mark 8:33): it destroys that god atheists deny and “religious” people affirm.
From Bethphage, where the pilgrims purify themselves in order to enter Jerusalem, Jesus sends two of His disciples to look for an ass. To search for and find the ass is the last but one mission of the disciples. The last and definitive one will follow: to search for and find the upper room, where the Eucharist is celebrated. The ass is the protagonist of the story. Humble, serving animal, it carries the burdens of others. It is like Jesus, the Servant of all, who, on the Cross, will burden Himself with our evils. With a love that is stronger than every death, He fully fulfills the new law that Paul summarizes in this way: “You should carry each other’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). This is God’s freedom on this earth: to be each other’s servants in mutual love. The capacity of loving and serving is our likeness with God, the fulfillment of His Kingdom.
The ass was there, but it was tied up. Nobody had ever sat on it or ridden it or wanted to do so. The mission of the two disciples is, first of all, to untie it. Because over it, God’s Kingdom is coming. Jesus’ mission, as well as our own, is to untie the capacity of loving and serving in each one of us. The false image of God had tied it: it is sin, common to all, that hinders us from knowing Him and becoming like Him. The ass, once it is untied, is the only thing that the Lord needs in the whole Gospel. Moreover, here is the only time that Jesus calls Himself “the Lord.”
The scene was fulfilled as it had been foreseen. It is an everlasting prophecy: the One who came in that way will always come thus. We wait for God to come in glory and power, getting hold of everything and everybody. Instead, He surrenders Himself to everybody (Isn’t love a surrendering of oneself, putting oneself in the other’s hands?). If His strength is love, His glory is humility, His power is to serve. He doesn’t come with the horse, as one who has the power, or with the war chariot as one who wants to conquer: “Humbly, He rides on a donkey” (Zc 9:9).
Thus, He makes horses and chariots disappear, every dominion and violence of people over other people. Whoever comes in this way is blessed because this is how God’s Kingdom comes. Whoever doesn’t come like this is accursed: he doesn’t come in the Lord’s name but in Satan’s. Every mission is to introduce a God who resembles the ass: poor, meek and humble. Only in this way the image of God is un-demonized as well as the image of the human being, His child. It is only thus that the Kingdom comes freeing us from the root of every evil: the craving of having in our hands everything and everybody: things, persons, our own self and even God. “Lord, has the time come? Are you going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” This is how the emerging Church’s last question sounds to her leaving Lord. The moment in which He really comes is “this,” if we are witnesses of Him (Acts 1:6-8). Witnesses of Him being like the donkey.