“The crowds preceding him and those following kept crying out and saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.’” (Mt. 21:9)
“[Pilate asked the crowd] ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Let him be crucified!”” (Mt. 27:22)
This Sunday we celebrate the beginning of Holy Week. The technical name for this day is: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. This name hints at the dual dimension of today’s feast.
The first dimension is pointed out by our entrance procession. Instead of gathering in the church as usual, we gather elsewhere and hear the proclamation of the Gospel recounting Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. We hear of the crowd singing “Hosanna” (which means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”) and rejoicing. They welcome Jesus as a king who has come to set his people free. There is a spirit of excitement and anticipation as they wait for Jesus to free his people from Roman domination. We join the crowd in this song as we enter the church.
But it is not long before we encounter the second dimension of this day. It is one of two days a year that we hear the proclamation of the Passion. On Good Friday, we hear St. John’s account of the passion; today we hear Matthew’s. Moments after joining the crowds cries of “Hosanna” and welcoming Jesus as a king who will save us by his power, we join the crowd in crying out for Jesus’ crucifixion when he does not meet our expectations.
The dual nature of today’s liturgy points out the weakness of our hearts to surrender to the power of God revealed in love and mercy. It points us firmly toward the full celebration of the Paschal Mystery through the celebrations of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter). Through the celebration of these sacred days this week, may our hearts be strengthened to surrender to the love and mercy of our God.
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood