Jesus' Donkey Statue

          On March 16, 2008 at 8:30 in the morning before the 9 a.m. Lenten Retreat sponsored by the MAMI Promoters, I went to see Msgr. Roque C. Reyes, parish priest of the St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

          “Msgr., I have a statue of Jesus riding on a donkey. It was blessed by Archbishop Ernesto Salgado last year during my school’s graduation exercise. I want that it will join the General Stations of the Cross this afternoon.”

          Msgr. replied, “Why did you come so late? Let me see it first. I am not making any promise that your statue can join. I will see if it would fit with the other statues.”

          So anxious was I for the statue to join the Stations of the Cross that I told Msgr. “I will be back now with the statue,” to which he replied, “In the afternoon.”

          And so I went to the venue of the retreat at the Aula de Caridad of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. After the retreat which was at 1 p.m. I went home to get palms at our home garden and went to borrow from our president, Mrs. Flori Aniceto the carriage which we the Ina Poon Bato Devotees use during Marian processions.

          I told my helper at the school to decorate the carriage in front of my school at the Heritage Village. While it was being decorated, the carriage of the image of Our Lady known as The Pietà depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, which is the 13th  Station of the Cross owned by Mrs. Pacita Donato and family passed by.

          I exclaimed, How beautiful! I have to make mine also beautiful so Msgr. will approve my statue to join the stations. So I immediately went to Mart One to buy curtains to cover the carriage. I was happy to get five pieces at half their regular price. When everything was done, I brought my statue to the church for Msgr. to see since it was already 4 pm. and the stations will start in two hours.

          With an air of confidence I presented the statue to Msgr. and true enough, Jesus Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem statue passed Msgr. Reyes quality standards. During the procession, people were amazed and glad to see a different statue of Jesus, unlike the usual depicting Jesus suffering in the hands of Pilate and the soldiers. It is heartwarming to see people actually liking this statue of Jesus with His hand raised in the form of blessing of peace, riding a brown donkey.  This statue was not only paraded during the Palm Sunday procession but also on Good Friday. Msgr. Reyes’ in good turn expressed that the statue will henceforth be a regular fixture during the Lenten Season.

          It has been observed that many pilgrims are coming to Ilocos Sur during Lent. The Church is happy of this Lenten pilgrimage. Hopefully, it strengthens the Catholic faith. The provincial government of Ilocos Sur is working with the church and the Department of Tourism to promote the churches in Ilocos Sur as religious pilgrimage destination. Frequently visited are the St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral and Simbaan a Bassit at Vigan City; Shrine of Our Lady of Charity (Nuestra Senora de la Caridad) at Bantay; Shrine of Sto Cristo Milagroso at Sinait; Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion Church in Santa Maria; St. Lucy Church in Sta. Lucia; St., Vincent Church in San Vicente and St. William Church in Magsingal.

          The Pater Noster Learning Center pupils had a Lenten Presentation. Here is a short story that speaks of the significance of the play.

          Traveling in a train were an elderly bishop and a newly ordained priest. The bishop spoke of his eventful life and then he asked the priest to tell the story of his vocation. The priest said, “All I can say is that the Lord has need of me.”

          “That’s a remarkable coincidence, young man,” observed the bishop. “So far as I can remember, only once in the Gospels did the Lord ever say that he had need of anything.”

          In Luke 19, verse 34 on the occasion of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus said He had in need of an ass. (A Donkey)

          The time of our Lord’s Passion was at hand, and Jesus, accompanied by his disciples and a considerable crowd of pilgrims, left Bethany to go to Jerusalem. The road took Him to the Mount of Olives.  Here he stopped and surprised His disciples by asking two of them to do a very strange thing. They were to go into a nearby village and borrow a donkey! Jesus knew exactly where it was, just inside the gate.  He also knew the donkey’s age; it was so young no one had sat upon it yet.  It could well be that He had seen this fine little animal the last time He passed this way, and now He needed a donkey He remembered it and said: Untie it, and bring it here.

          Naturally the disciples wondered what the owner would say.  Jesus knew their thoughts and said: If anyone asks you, Why are you untying it? you shall say, “The Lord has need of it.”

          Still wondering why Jesus should want a donkey, the disciples walked over to the village.  There, just where Jesus had told them, they found the young colt and untied it. As they were doing so the owners came up and asked, Why are you untying the colt? “The Lord has need of it,” the disciples said, and took it away. Perhaps the owners were believers in Jesus and were glad to lend Him their animal.

          When the disciples returned with the donkey, suddenly a great hope rose in the hearts of the disciples. Could this be the moment they had been waiting for?  Was Jesus going to let Himself be crowned king of Israel after all? The disciples and the people spontaneously organized themselves into a procession.

          They had no cloth of gold to put on the donkey but some of them gladly offered their garments, by way of a saddle, and helped Jesus to sit upon it.

          Suddenly the donkey took a step forward. As Jesus road along, the people spread their cloaks on the road and others cut branches from the trees waving them joyfully. Men and women rushed to join the procession. At the top of their voices they shouted:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!

          Every moment excitement grew. People came running from all directions to find out what was going on. “What is happening?” they cried. ‘What is going on here?”
“It is Jesus of Nazareth, the great teacher of Galilee.

          Jesus had visited Jerusalem several times before.  He had not wanted to be recognized as the Messiah. When the multitude had wished to make Him King after the first multiplication of the loaves, He had fled into the mountains. He had commanded his apostles who were witness to His transfiguration and the sick whom He cured to be silent.

But now He is going to Jerusalem to be crowned as King of Israel. He is riding on a donkey, just as the prophet said.

          It was a great day for the disciples, for all the people who followed Him. Never would they forget the thrill of that wonderful procession.

          And it was a great day for that little donkey.  If donkeys think, he may have thought, ‘The Lord could have chosen a lion, an elephant, or a horse for such a wonderful occasion as this, but instead He chose me, a little donkey!’

And what was it that the two disciples said as they went to untie the donkey? “The Lord has need of it.”

          What a lesson for us all! The donkey the Lord used in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem was a concrete manifestation that his kingdom is not of this world.

          You and I are like that little donkey, perhaps thinking that we have shortcomings and limitations. Jesus knows who we are and He has need of us. He wants to make use of us to carry out his plans, just as He made use of the donkey for his entry into Jerusalem. 

Let us all recite this lovely little prayer:

Lord, if Thou need me, show me how, and where, and when. Help me to do my best     for Thee. Use me as Thou will – all the way to the New Jerusalem. Amen.

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