Christ the King Sunday
By Thabo Makgoba
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 21:1-13
1 When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4 This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
12 Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 He said to them, “It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
but you are making it a den of robbers.”
Jesus’ entry into the capital sets off enormous popular enthusiasm, but its peaceful nature — although foretold by Zechariah — turned upside-down the expectations of those who supposed the Messiah would appear in a dramatic event, such as an earthquake at the Mount of Olives.
Instead, Jesus sends two of his disciples to bring to him a donkey and its colt — a symbol of humility, peace, and yet also Davidic royalty. Filled with enthusiasm, the disciples spread their garments on the donkey, and the Messiah — who previously travelled on foot — arrives at the temple riding this lowly animal to accept, as he had never done before, the homage of those who proclaimed him the Son of David.
For me, the fact that our faith begins with a young man riding into Jerusalem, a city occupied by a foreign power, on a borrowed donkey, is profoundly symbolic. I have written previously that this image of Jesus sustains me as a Christian. In a world of military might, of empires and of colonial oppression — including that of my own forebears — it tells us that Christianity is not imperialism or colonial power.
No, Christianity reflects the values of a humble, marginalized Palestinian who enters Jerusalem a nobody, a man unknown to many, yet who conveys a message of simplicity, of love and of peace — and who is also strong-willed enough to overturn the tables of the moneylenders who abuse the house of the Lord. It is on this kind of Messiah that the Church is built.
In these COVID-19 times, it bears reminding ourselves that for all its foibles and weaknesses as a human institution, the Church is a result of God’s prophetic act, a living example meant to embody and model to the world the values of such a Messiah.
The Most Rev. Dr. Thabo Makgoba is Archbishop of the Diocese of Capetown, South Africa; metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Southern Africa; and chancellor of the University of the Western Cape.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Christ the King Episcopal Church, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
The Church of Bangladesh