Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño shares Palm Sunday message: Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem

March 28, 2021 | by Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño

Bishop Minerva G. CarcaƱo shares Palm Sunday message: Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño shares a message for Palm Sunday grounded in Mark 11:1-11. Bishop invites us to wonder about the events of that day, as Jesus made his way into Jerusalem, through the eyes of a young donkey that had never been ridden. 

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You may read the text of Bishop Minerva's message below.


Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem                                         Palm Sunday 2021

11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10     Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Mark 11:1-11
New Revised Standard Version
As I prepared for this Holy Week I was led to wondering – wondering what this week was like for those who were there on that first Holy Week – seeing this week through their eyes and experiences.  Thanks for joining me in wondering.

On this Palm and Passion Sunday I wonder what the young donkey that Jesus rode on as he entered Jerusalem saw and felt.

My father once told me and my siblings that donkeys were not dumb as some folk thought.  He told us they were strong-willed but for a reason.

By nature, donkeys test humans to see how we will treat them giving us their trust only after we have proven ourselves trustworthy.

Donkeys, my father said, are stronger than they look, but they are also cautious.  Donkeys are hard-wired to perceive potential danger around them.
And they never forget.  Whether it’s something that happened to them or something they saw beyond themselves.  They never forget.

My wondering and my father’s lesson about the character of the donkey leads me to believe that the donkey found Jesus trustworthy.  This was a young donkey that had never been ridden before, but he allows Jesus, whom he had never met before, to ride him into a loud and boisterous crowd filled with mixed emotions about Jesus and limited awareness of who he was and is.    
Today we live in a loud and boisterous time with a pandemic, economic recession and renewed manifestations of racism.  How we have faced our time has shown our mixed emotions about Jesus and our truly limited awareness of who he is, and thus who we who claim him as Lord of our lives should be.

In the recent expressions of violence and hatred against our Asian-American brothers and sisters one of our congregations had a time of conversation and prayer.  One church member raised the question of how the person who had killed the 8 in Atlanta among them 6 Asian-American women, could call himself a Christian and do what he had done. 

And let us not forget what happened on the 6th of January when hundreds attacked the nation’s capital with destructive force and shouts of hunting down congressional leaders to do them harm all in the name of Jesus……according to them.  Friends, too much of this has happened because we Christians have allowed some to corrupt the Christian witness and use it for less than faithful reasons. 

We must confess that we are not always trustworthy, but Jesus is.  The donkey saw and felt Jesus’ trustworthiness and became his partner in entering Jerusalem for the salvation of the world.  Let us place our trust in Jesus and truly be partners with him and him above all.

Donkeys, my father said, are stronger than they look, but they are also cautious.  Donkeys are hard-wired to perceive potential danger around them.

Oh, what the donkey must have perceived as he aided Jesus in his entrance to Jerusalem.  There were those who truly welcomed Jesus because they had been touched by his holy words, healed by his mercy, included by his love.   Their spreading of their cloaks on the road along with leafy branches they had just cut in the fields was an action of true welcome and devotion.  Their hosannas and blessings for Jesus the One who comes in the name of the Lord were real, deeply felt, an expression of their faith.

But then there were those who were joiners in the moment, undecided about Jesus, but not wanting to miss the celebration.  There were those who wanted to believe but were afraid, sensing already the political tension in the city, hearing the rumors that Jesus would die that week at the hands of those whose power and authority he threatened, and those who conspired against Jesus.  The donkey saw, heard, and felt all of it. 

We have not changed much since that first Palm Sunday.  We in the Christian community are today the fervent faithful, the undecided, the fearful and the conspirators.  Unfortunately, sometimes we cause more danger and damage than being the instruments of the healing and hope we seek to bring into the world.

The donkey by nature would have perceived the danger all around, yet did not buck Jesus, did not run in the opposite direction, did not get ahead of Jesus, did not determine the way.  What the donkey seems to perceive most of all is Jesus’ blessing filled with the assurance that all would be well. 

The road ahead as set by Jesus as he entered Jerusalem was the road to the coming kingdom of God.  The donkey heard the Hosannas being lifted to the highest heaven and steadied his walk, in support of Jesus and his holy message of love, hope, peace and abundant life for all. 

How might we steady our walk of faith in support of the Good News that Jesus brings us?

Finally, remembering my father’s lesson that donkeys never forget, whether it’s something that happened to them or something they saw beyond themselves, I wonder what lingered in the mind and spirit of the donkey after delivering Jesus to his Holy Week mission. 

I love a donkey’s great big eyes.  Blessed to carry Jesus on that first Palm Sunday, experiencing the intimate closeness of Jesus, what did that donkey’s great big eyes see?   I wonder – I wonder if he saw the unforgettable.   Beyond the impending deadly cruelty of the week’s days ahead, through the spirit of Jesus, might he have seen the possibility of life in a peaceful kingdom. 
I have always struggled with the Prophet Isaiah’s words in the eleventh chapter of the book of Isaiah.  I confess that I have had a hard time imagining and believing that the prophet’s words could ever become real.  But on this Palm Sunday as I look ahead through the eyes of the donkey who carried our Lord into Jerusalem, I can see it and believe it……

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
    the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
    and a little child shall lead them. 
Isaiah 11:6 NRSV

There is something to be said about looking at life and faith through the eyes of another.  We can learn so much from one another, even from a creature of God’s handiwork like the donkey. Thanks be to God!

May you have a blessed Palm Sunday!

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño is Resident Bishop of the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church.