Palm Sunday Year B
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”
While I was meditating on this Gospel reading, I imaged the scene, Jesus on a donkey riding up into Jerusalem by the Eastern gate. I few years ago I went to Jerusalem with a group from my mum’s church and we visited the Eastern gate also known as the Golden gate, which is now all bricked up, and I remember trying to picture the scene in my head – “Jesus’ triumphant journey into Jerusalem”.
This gate has been sealed a few times over the century’s. First by the Muslims in 810 and finally by Ottoman Suleiman the Magnificent in 1541, in belief that the Anointed One would not be able to pass through and enter into Jerusalem.
The Jews understand the text taken from Ezekiel, the Divine presence used to appear through the Eastern Gate, and will appear when the Anointed One – the Messiah comes again.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus sent two of his disciples into the village to bring back a donkey which no one has ever sat upon, this was a common requirement at the time for any animal that is to be used for a religious purpose. Mark clearly presents Jesus as displaying supernatural knowledge, but present day scholars think the owners of the donkey must have already been disciples, indicating their unwavering response when they heard that “The Lord has need of it”.
The disciples threw their garments on the back of the donkey for use as a saddle, crowds gathered singing ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. Now the word Hosanna translates to the phase “Save Now”. The Jewish people were recalling the words from the psalm 118.
“Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give is success!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. ”
The Jewish people hoping that Jesus would be the one to save them and lead them to victory over their oppressor which was at the time the Roman Empire.
People gathered on the road with garments, and laid palm branches, which is a form of royal homage. This was imitating the procession the Jews had on the feast of Tabernacles where they would normally wave palm branches in the air. Palms branches are an important symbol, they are also portrayed in the book of Revelations in chapter 7
“After this I looked and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb”.
Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem is seen as the coming of a humble Messiah, who came not in Glory with strength and power, but as a religious figure, the prince of peace, humble and riding on a donkey fulfilling the text in Zechariah:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion,
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem,
Lo your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey.”
The manner of the entry of this humble King, shows Jesus’ declaration to Pilate: “My kingdom is not from this world”. Then a week later the only crown the King receives is the ‘crown of thrones’, and the crowds of people not singing His praises but shouting ‘Crucify him, crucify him’.
The cross of Christ lifted up as a sign of Jesus taking away the sins of the world upon himself, in order to soften our hearts, by revealing the depth of his perfect love.
Today we should not lay down coats or lifeless branches, but spread ourselves down like coats under His feet. We have been clothed in the grace of Christ, our sins have been purified white as wool through our Baptism. God thought we were worth all that pain and suffering that Jesus endured in His Passion.
We should be reduced to silent tears, and bend our knee at the name of Jesus in humble adoration, and acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father.