APRIL 3 – HOSANNA TO THE ‘PALM SUNDAY CHRIST’
DEVOTIONAL: As a child, I loved the unbounded joy of Palm Sunday — Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the cries of “Hosanna” and the waving of branches. Mass always ended with ushers handing out priest-blessed strips of palm. My brothers, sisters and I eagerly took them home, made them into crosses and pinned them to our bedroom walls. We kept them until they crumbled away — and then replaced them with fresh representations of the “Palm Sunday Christ.”
It was only as a young adult that I understood the deeper meaning of the Palm Sunday story from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As the Gospels tell us, Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead and was at the peak of his influence. Yet Jesus fulfilled prophecy by humbly and quietly riding a young donkey and carrying an olive branch of peace in his hands. Some people still cheered him as a miracle worker; others as the Messiah. But the praise soon ended and Jesus’ life was taken because people did not understand who he was and what he meant.
That narrative arc still saddens me. How could the people have been so fickle and so cruel? Yet I accept it as a divine mystery; something that had to happen. So on this Palm Sunday, I hope to collect new palm strips, fashion them into a cross, pray for all those suffering in flesh and spirit and imagine that amazing Sunday long ago in Jerusalem. “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!”
SCRIPTURE: John 12:12-16 (NRSV)
The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — the King of Israel!’
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!’
His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.