Feel Good ‘Palm’ Sunday: The Plight of God’s Beast of Burden, the Donkey

By Marjorie Farabee of WHFF and TMR Rescue

“…the donkey asks for nothing in payment other than to be treated fairly…”

Today of all days, I am struck by the hypocrisy of people who want the wild burros gone from their rightful lands. On this week of Christ’s trial and resurrection I am reminded of the humbleness of the donkey, and his designation in the Bible as the animal that represents peace. On this week, I think of the Bible stories that tell of the many roles played by the humble, peaceful donkey in Christ’s life and times. Throughout the Bible and also other religious texts, the donkey plays a major role. In the desert there could be no greater partner than the donkey who can survive four days without water and acted as a water diviner when allowed to follow their instincts. The donkeys carried goods and people great distances while needing little to survive. Even now, scientists are tracking donkey fossils to determine the spread of human civilization around the globe for they were always the chosen beast of burden carrying goods afar in trade.

Yes, we owe much to the donkey. Yet, the donkey asks for nothing in payment other than to be treated fairly. On the day Jesus was born a small donkey stood vigilant over the cradle of Jesus, and Balaam was warned by a donkey given speech to not betray the Jews. Then, on Palm Sunday the donkey rode into Jerusalem with Jesus aboard in a semblance of peace and servitude. Yet, now, everyday we read of violent acts committed against this kind animal. Jesus and God loved the donkey, yet today the wild donkeys are violently treated by hunters and game managers who call them pests and vermin. And, domestic donkeys are starved, beaten and treated with malice. These same people would most likely identify themselves as Christian without seeing the hypocrisy of their actions toward their own religion as they ask to remove donkeys by whatever means possible. They ask to issue hunting permits, and issue roundup orders. They ask to send these sublime animals given as a gift to all of us, to slaughter. And, now to add to all of the pressures on donkeys to survive we have the Chinese skin trade. It hurts my heart.

On this week of trial and resurrection my hope is that the donkey will rise again as a creature who is appreciated and understood in the way that he is by God. I pray that the humble donkey will at last be rewarded by finding a way to bring out what is good in all of us. At long last, a resurrection of the altruistic side of humankind might help people find it in their hearts to provide a small parcel of the planet where they can be safe with their families, wild and unharassed by violence. Or, safely in a warm stable munching hay. I think that on this week of trail and resurrection, Jesus looks down on His kingdom and weeps for the donkey He so loves, and is saddened at them being harmed by the humans He gave His own life to save.

There is a real sadness to His tears for all of us.

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