THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
A LESSON FROM THE ASS
March 28, 2010
Today Jesus enters triumphantly into Jerusalem, riding on
a colt (Mk 11:7). People cried out: “Hosanna! Blessed
is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom
of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!”
I want to focus not so much on Jesus, but on the colt.
Let us look at what one great saint said. St Peter Claver
was a Spanish Jesuit who served the slaves in the Caribbean
islands in the early days in the New World. He called himself
“the slave of the slaves.” He was bitterly criticized
and oppressed by the slave owners. His reply was, “The
humble ass is my model. When he is evilly spoken of, he is
dumb. Whatever happens he never complains, for he is only
an ass. So also must the servant of God be.”
these few words are some crucial aspects of being a servant.
is humility. We are not worthy, but God gives us the privilege
of doing divine work. We must empty ourselves and allow Him
to fill us with His grace and power. We must be laid low so
that He can life us up. We must be the last and the least
in order to be the first and the greatest.
is meekness in the face of evil and oppression. The servant
of God will always expect to be opposed and vilified. He will
be spoken evilly of, even accused of doing the work of the
devil (just as Jesus was). He does not retaliate in kind.
He does not complain. He remains dumb (that is, silent). He
endures and perseveres. He simply continues to do what is
right and good.
is redemptive suffering. He rejoices in suffering for the
sake of Christ. He rejoices in the privilege of carrying the
cross of Christ. He knows suffering is good for his soul,
purifies his being, and helps him grow in holiness. He looks
to the suffering of Jesus on the cross and knows that such
holy suffering is redemptive.
So when someone vilifies you and calls you a “dumb ass,”
rejoice! That person is unknowingly stating a profound truth.
He is unknowingly reminding you of whom you are supposed to
be as a servant.
if he vilifies you even more by calling you an “asshole”
(pardon me), then doubly rejoice. We are not worthy even to
be the whole ass, but just a small part of the ass. And it
is that part in fact where sh_t (pardon me) passes. We are
sinners and compared to the holiness of God we indeed are
like stinking human waste. Our works are like dirty rags before
behold: we still have a very important, nay critical, function.
God uses us to help expel waste and filth. Without our proper
functioning, the body would soon be terribly sick.
And so it is that according to the eternal plan of God, Jesus
entered Jerusalem on a colt or an ass.
“Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O
daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just
savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal
of an ass.” (Zec 9:9)
What an honor! Jesus did not choose a mighty stallion as was
befitting a king, but a lowly ass. Jesus indeed is king, but
he is the suffering servant. As his servants, we too will
do wondrous works in his name, but this will not be cause
for pride but for great humility.
let us ever be mindful:
That people are spreading their cloaks on the road for us
to walk on, not to honor us but to honor Jesus.
people are shouting their “hosannas” not to
us, but to Jesus who is behind us (riding on our backs;
being Christ in us who works through us). “Hosanna”
means “O Lord grant salvation” in Hebrew. Jesus
is the savior and we are but his instruments.
people will bless us only because we come in the name of
we are not the ones leading Jesus, but it is he guiding
us in the way we are to go.
is our savior, but he has given us the great privilege of
carrying himhis name, his work, his authority, his anointing,
his empowerment. We, lowly asses that we are, carry Jesus,
as he moves to fulfill God’s plan for the world.
us truly rejoice heartily and shout for joy, for the privilege
of serving Jesus and carrying him on our backs. As servants
of God, just like St Peter Claver, let us have the humble
ass as our model.
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