Sunday, April 2
(At procession with palms)
Is 50:4-7; Ps 222:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24; Phil 2:6-11; Phil 2:8-9;
Mt 26:14—27:66 or Mt 27:11-54
We have arrived at Jerusalem, the beginning of the end of what has been our Lenten pilgrimage. Just as an overture at the start of a Broadway musical sets the mood; offers appetizers of the music yet to come; sets the stage for the drama ahead — so too does Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and the robust Word of God we share in this day.
As Jesus approaches the “Beautiful Gate,” it was Passover time and the city was jammed. People shoe-horned into narrow little streets; shoulder to shoulder; body to body; squeezed like egg-laying chickens in a modern poultry farm; dirty, messy, near squalid conditions.
Jerusalem, at the start of this epic saga, was a kind of Mardi Gras, Times Square New Year’s Eve, and Daytona Beach Bike Week all rolled into one frenzied, chanting and dizzying mass of humanity.
And you know as well as I do — it is so easy to get lost in a crowd — and there are so many things that “crowd” each of our lives: responsibilities and anxieties; grudges and prejudices; distractions and illusions; old wounds and current disappointments; uncertainties and self-absorption; over-stuffed schedules and mind-numbing to-do lists; a catalog of “what-ifs and what-could-have-beens.”
And so it was for Jesus and his followers as the music rang out, the palms were waved, the cloaks were strewn on the ground like royal rugs, and vindication seemed closer than ever.
It is so easy to get lost in a crowd; to change our minds; to realize how fickle we and others can be; to act the part of casual betrayers more than we’d probably like to admit. After all, it takes a lot of work, and missteps, and energy, and patience to remain faithful to our commitments and to people — even the ones we claim to love most in this world.
Although this our day of the palms will be far different than the one Jesus and his followers experienced so long ago—there is one important thing we still have in common—and that is—we will be uttering the same cry of the people—a cry that should mean more to us now than it ever has before—HOSANNA! For “Hosanna” literally means, “I beg you to save!”
And this is why, as our Palm Sunday overture begins to fade, we must continue to shout “Hosanna!” Whether trapped in disappointment or despair; or tethered to pieces of technology that rule our lives; or tearful because we are lamenting lost loved ones; or sick in a hospital or nursing home without hope; or alone and afraid of what tomorrow may bring; or trying to keep our heads above water as our finances threaten to pull us under; or a host of other things from which we desperately want to be delivered—let us raise our voices to God, to Jesus Christ, the One who “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped, but rather emptied himself,” who indeed does “Come in the name of the Lord!”
The prophet Isaiah declares today, “the Lord is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.” At the start of this our Holy Week, let us shout like we’ve never done before—“Hosanna! God, we beseech you, save us!”
Father Ben Berinti, CPPS, is the pastor at both Immaculate Conception, Melbourne Beach and St. Joseph, Palm Bay in Diocese of Orlando.
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