Thursday, March 17, 2016

"Hosanna in the highest!"

This Sunday, March 20, is Palm Sunday.  The Gospel reading is the story of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem where he would soon be put to death.  He rode a donkey into the city.  It indeed was a triumphant entry, with his followers spreading their cloaks and palm branches on the road ahead of Him to cushion his ride.  All four gospels record the event.  His followers heaped great praise on their Savior on this occasion, saying “Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest.” 

I’m thinking of that word “hosanna.”  What does it mean?  Webster’s dictionary defines it as “an exclamation used to give praise to God.”  So it must have been like his followers saying:  “Extreme praise to our God!  Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.  Extreme praise to God!”  You can imagine the scene.  His disciples nearly beside themselves with joy and adoration, laying their cloaks and palm branches in His path to cushions His ride.  The scene is reenacted at every Mass as worshipers are ecstatic over Christ’s action about to be re-presented.  “Holy, holy, holy.  Lord God of hosts.  Heaven and earth are full of your glory.  Hosanna in the highest!  Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest!”  The words used at Mass are the same as the words in Scripture.

But of course deeper into the city, the chief priests and the elders took a different view.  They wanted to put him to death for blasphemy and because they did not believe that He was who He said He was!  And they succeeded in this effort later that week.  Joy and adoration turned quickly to sadness and despair.  The hosannas turned to tears.  But, of course, the death was necessary because this action saved us from our sins.  Then, once that task was completed, He rose from the dead so that all may believe.  So the tide turned one final time.  “Glory and praise to our God Who alone gives light to our day.”

What a week!  A holy week!  Lord, please be at our side as we again watch the events unfold.  Help us to fully grasp what you did for us that week in Jerusalem.  Please accept our extreme praise for you in thanksgiving for what you did for us.  Help us to change our lives in order to maximize our acts of faith and love in accordance with your holy will.  Amen.

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