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The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is mentioned in all four gospels marking the beginning of his Passion(Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44 and John 12:12-19). The city of Jerusalem was filled with people from all over Palestine and from regions beyond for the Jewish feast of tabernacles as it recalled the custom: to “rejoice before the Lord” established by the law of Leviticus 23:40. It was quite natural for Jesus to visit Jerusalem as he was a Jew. Many people who had seen Jesus and many more who had only heard of Him were eagerly waiting to see and meet him. The people were crowded around the gate. When they heard that he was coming on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9), they went out at once to meet Him. People were unable to control their inner joy. The reason of their joy was mentioned by St. Johnas he made this significant comment, “So the crowd that had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him” John 12:17- 18. Moreover, the multitude could not restrain their demonstration after seeing Jesus. Many spread their garments in the path of the colt that it might walk upon them and others cut branches from palm and strewed them in the way. A multitude ran before and followed after, crying in one great chorus: “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” What a triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem! Their shouts of “hosanna in the highest” indicated the hope that their Messiah had finally come to set up God’s kingdom then and there (Psalm 118: 25–26). The meaning of this acclaim is an interesting question. Though some probably joined the group without any reason except that it was a multitude, it is evident from the words which they uttered that many had some idea, if indeed a wrong one, as to the meaning of the occasion. St. Luke also informs us that some of the Pharisees were there (Luke 19:89), and that they requested Jesus to rebuke His disciples for their part in the demonstration. It was then Jesus said, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out” Luke 19:40.

“Hosanna” is a Hebrew word which has for its root the verb “Yasha”, which means to save or to rescue. The Jews had been waiting a long time for the fulfilment of the Davidic Covenant. By saying “hosanna” as Jesus passed through the gates of Jerusalem, the Jews were referring and acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah. When ‘hosanna’ wasused in this way, it formed either a prayer “Save us” or “Deliver us” or an exclamation “He will save us!” or “He will deliver us!” Whether a prayer or an exclamation on this occasion, it is exceedingly probable that the mentality of crowd was of a political deliverance from Roman yoke. They cried better than they knew. However, for Hosanna is a glorious acclaim for spiritual deliverance more than a political deliverance. Jesus’ objective in Jerusalem was the temple, not the palace. His interests were spiritual, not political. There is not as much as a hint of a gesture on the part of Jesus in the direction of a political ambition but the mission of His first coming as human was to redeem the world from sin and to save his people. It was in His prophetic office that He came the first time. It is in His priestly office that He is present in Eucharist every time. It is in His kingly office that He will come again a second time. Sadly, the salvation that the people of Jerusalem wanted that day was political, not spiritual. The same people, who shouted ‘hosanna’, later shouted ‘crucify him’. Jesus’ oppression and death were clearly predicted in Isaiah 53. They were only interested in a temporary, worldly fulfilment of the messianic prophecies. They chose not to see the prophecies that said the Messiah would be “a man of sorrows” who would bear the grief of His people, be crushed for their sins and who would overcome death.Therefore, shouting “hosanna” today is a spiritual call to accept Messiah as He is and to follow His path of saving inner peace with God, others and oneself. The followers of Jesus are those who not only live for his people but also die on behalf of his people without saving one’s life, reputations etc., as there is no greater love than this to lay down one’s life for his friend- Jesus. And in this way we do not give chance to grow hatred in this world but promote unity in diversity and peace among turmoil. ‘Hosanna’ is a proclamation of Jesus’ way of life that fills the memory, rules the heart and guides the feet to overcome death caused by sin. Palm branches have been used by all nations as an emblem of joy and victory over enemies; but in Christianity as a sign of victory over the flesh and the world. Let the sixth and last Sunday of Lent and beginning of the Holy Week, a Sunday of the highest rank, bringremembrance of INRI.

Fr. Henry Peter MSFS

St. Peter’s Catholic Church,

Raidhi, Odisha, India.


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