Hosanna: A Palm Sunday Reflection

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Matthew 21:9

We chant “hosanna” every time we got to Mass, but what does it mean? “Hosanna” is a Hebrew exclamation of praise. It can mean save us, or salvation. By greeting him with “hosanna,” the people show that they were aware that Jesus was the Messiah. They believed that he would save them, at least they did on Palm Sunday. Later that week, they condemned him to death. The fickle crowds didn’t want him anymore. Maybe he wasn’t who they thought he would be, or maybe they disagreed with his teachings. We can look at this crowd objectively and wonder how they could change their minds about Jesus so quickly. How could they reject the Messiah? But if we look at ourselves and the people around us, we realize that we’re no different.

We can know in our hearts that Jesus is our Savior but deny him with the way that we live our lives. We can know his commandments but not follow him. We can intend to pray but we never show up, causing our relationship with God to deteriorate. We consider donating or volunteering, but we opt out because we don’t feel like it. Like the people of Jerusalem, we find ourselves welcoming Jesus one moment, when it’s easy, and rejecting him the next moment, when it’s time to take responsibility and be his disciple. We see this too often in this world. I regret to say that I see this in myself. We have to strive to change this mentality, and we have to start with ourselves.

In the meantime, I’ll tell you the incredible thing about Jesus: He’s still Jesus no matter what we do.

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Our reaction to Jesus doesn’t change who he is. On Palm Sunday and Good Friday, he was and still is our Savior. Whether we follow him or stray, he still pursues us. He suffered and died for all of his children, for his disciples and for the ones who tortured and crucified him. Whether we shout “Hosanna!” or “Crucify him!” Jesus still willingly gives up his life for us. It isn’t our love for him that led to his Passion and Death, but it was his unwavering love for us. There’s nothing that you could do that would prevent your Savior from carrying the cross and being crucified for you.

So when we chant “hosanna” on this Palm Sunday, let’s make those hosannas the most genuine and heartfelt that we’ve ever uttered. Let’s rend our hearts and run to our Savior who suffered, died, and rose again so that you can spend eternity with him in Heaven.

Stay radiant!

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