25th March 2018, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Year B
“Hosanna” …“crucify Him.”
Palm Sunday which is actually the sixth Sunday of lent is the feast commemorating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as recorded in all four Gospels. It is the great doorway leading into Holy Week, the week when the Lord Jesus makes his way towards the culmination of his earthly existence. This Sunday begins the Passion Week, or Holy Week. On this note it is also called Passion Sunday. In some cases it is referred to as Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. The principal ceremonies of the day are the benediction of the palms, the procession, the Mass, and during it the singing of the Passion.
The twin words “Hosanna” and “crucify Him” depict the decorum of the liturgy today. The Gospels especially that of Saint Mark read today make us understand that that Jesus had set out towards Jerusalem in company with the Twelve, and that little by little a growing crowd of pilgrims had joined them. Jesus rode on a colt fulfilling the Prophecy of Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). The “great multitude” following Jesus spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Those who went in front and those who followed were all shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heavens!’
The joyous expectations of the crowd will lead to disappointment. “Hosanna!” will turn to “Crucify him!” five days latter (Matthew 27:22-23). There is thus a glaring paradox in all this triumphant songs! The people who celebrated Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a colt will abandon Jesus during his painful exit carrying a cross on his back. These same people who today shout Jesus as their King would soon cry out for his crucifixion.
True enough, our distance from the event causes us to merge the two crowds into one and assume it was the same people who shouted “Hosanna” that also cried “crucify Him.”One can make a clear difference between the two groups or two tendencies in the crowd. It was the jubilant Galileans who shouted “Hosanna” and the aristocratic, superficially religious ingrates of Jerusalem who wanted to appease the Romans who cried “crucify Him.” In this last group we can see the Pharisees and other hypocritical religious leaders Jesus did not mince words to attack.
It is also clear that there were some who were playing the role of “two side cutlass” or double edge sword. We are often related with the two crowds. On the one hand we shout “Hosanna!” But on the other hand, are we really shouting “Hosanna!” or with our thoughts and our actions, are we shouting “Crucify him!” We may ask ourselves this question: Does the way I live my life say to the world, “Hosanna!” Or does it say, “Crucify him!”? While God gave us his only Son out of love, we gave him back our cry of “Crucify him!” through our many sins. We must stand fast with Jesus. Let every fiber of our being shout out Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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