From Rev. Pat Kriss: The Things Jesus Borrowed
(Posted March 22, 2018)
When I was growing up, there were two men of God whose ability to express Divine love in their preaching transcended any sense of religious denominations in those who listened. One was Billy Graham; the other was Fulton J. Sheen. It didn’t matter that Rev. Graham was a Protestant. Many Catholics, including my parents, listened to his crusades. It also didn’t matter that Fulton Sheen was a Catholic – and a Catholic Bishop at that. So many Protestants I know listened intently to his often lighthearted messages, too. Both preachers had unique and sometimes startling insights about Jesus.
It wasn’t surprising then when I was preparing this Palm Sunday’s message that I happened upon a book of Fulton Sheen’s vision of that fateful entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. But I had never considered that this moment of borrowing his ride was part of an intentional pattern in Christ’s life. Fulton Sheen pointed out that Jesus -- the Word Became Flesh -- who was “rich,” became poor for our sake. He borrowed our human nature with all its pains and fears so that he could genuinely teach us how to live.
And then Jesus kept on borrowing. He borrowed a boat from the fisherman to preach from. He borrowed barley loaves and fishes from a boy to feed thousands on a hillside. He borrowed a grave at the end of this week of earthshaking passion from which he would rise on Easter. And on the beginning of this passion week, he borrowed a colt, the offspring of a donkey, so that WE could visibly understand that he chose the life of poverty and service over the thundering might and wealth of the Caesars who always entered with their army parades on this road into the Holy City.
On these days leading up to Palm Sunday, I think of all that borrowing, and I see that, no matter what was borrowed, what was repaid to us humans was worth so much more. A boat provided a platform from which Jesus’ voice would echo through the ages. Bread and fishes quenched the hunger of those who ached to take in hope. And an empty grave would become the Manger, the birthing place for Salvation, for victory over death. As Bishop Sheen noted, “sometimes God preempts and requisitions the things of man, as if to remind him that everything is a gift from him.”
So I hope, on this Sunday when the church smells of fresh green palms, and the children will play with the fronds they pass out to us, that you will join us bystanders reenacting the parade that leads to Jesus’ destiny. It leads, more importantly, to the glorious Easter morning that put an end to death and our own sins. Holy Week all starts here, on a borrowed donkey. - Pastor Pat Kriss
An important Sunday weather note: Unlike many years in the past, there may be foul weather for the Blessing of the Palms that we and other area clergy and congregations usually attend across the street in front of City Hall. If the weather is bad, we will move our own Blessing of the Palms into the Narthex of the church, and you are welcome to join us there right before the beginning of Palm Sunday services.