Jesus draws near to Bethphage (‘a house of jaws’, meaning a place of priests, Orgien tells us) and Bethany (meaning ‘obedience’). St Ambrose sees Jesus coming to the Mount of Olivet so that he could plant new olive trees – the Gentiles. St Cyril of Alexandria sees a similar symbolism in the need for the foal of a donkey – this is a sign of his calling the peoples of the world to his church. Ephrem the Syrian reminds us that he starts out in the manger with a donkey, and now finishes with one too. Justin Martyr sees in the words of Genesis 49:11 an allegory of the things that would happen to Christ – and in the words of Jesus about Jerusalem a prophecy of what would befall that city.
St Ambrose sees in the Apostles throwing down their garments before Christ, a symbol of their virtues which they will give to the service of the Lord hereafter.
Christ takes his seat in an inward possession of our spirits, and fills us with his love and, which will redeem us, though we have done nothing to merit it. The scene is set for what will come, when the world will do its worst – and God will triumph.