Easter Animals and the Marginalized
Passover begins this week, coinciding with the Christian Holy Week. In both cases, each participant is staking his or her entire life, and entire afterlife, on slaughtered animals, just as followers have done for many centuries.
Animals play a vast and important role in both Hebrew and Christian scriptures. They consistently represent, literally and figuratively, atonement for individuals and nations. God is described as a lion, and a lamb, and a bird, and heaven as a place where lions and lambs can dwell together in peace. A snake convinced Adam and Eve to do wrong. A donkey led Jesus to his death.
Consider Balaam’s donkey from the book of Numbers. She (SHE. God is impartial, at least when it comes to donkeys.) wandered into a field, almost walked into a wall, and stopped in the middle of the road, for fear of the angel that kept appearing to her to warn Balaam not to curse Israel. She also talked to her owner (with attitude, but can you blame her? He’d beaten her all day).
Donkeys can’t usually talk, but the spiritual ability to see beyond what humans can is something people have wondered about animals for many centuries. Just as animals can sense a coming storm, sometimes they also seem to have an innate ability to sense spiritual oppression.
Perhaps that is why they have been chosen to represent justice for the poor and atonement for the guilty. Perhaps they understand better what is going on than we think they do. They were the only visitors allowed in at Christ’s birth, after all. And Adam’s.
Many people have animals to thank. People who would be marginalized from God – on earth as it is in heaven – were it not for the slaughtered goats, doves and Passover lambs.
Have you ever sensed that an animal you know has a connection to the spiritual realm?
Do you have any other ideas for how animals connect us to God?
How about how animals save people who would otherwise be in danger?
Thank you to my dad for this photo gallery of scary Easter Bunny pictures. Proof that not all Easter animals have a connection with the good spiritual realm…