By Michelle George
+ Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Respected Achen, Parents, Teachers, & my dear friends in Christ.
Today, we are so fortunate of having the chance to take part in triumphant and victorious journey to His Father’s house. That means, we could lead the procession taking our Savior Lord Jesus Christ as the King of King to Jerusalem Church.
What does Hosanna means?
The word Hosanna is a liturgical meaning is “save, rescue.”
We finally came to the destination to receive Jesus Christ as the King of the world; after observing the great lent. That’s why our forefathers set forth this Hosanna after the 40 days of fasting & prayer. The reason is to prepare ourselves to see or accept Jesus in our life. Even though we are the creation of the Lord God Almighty, as we live in the physical world, we don’t see Jesus Christ but we experience Him. It needs some kind of preparation. Preparation starts from the very beginning of the Great Lent ie wedding at Cana. What we have seen there a command, obedience and a real change. The change in terms of when water saw its creator, water rejoiced and turn into the desire of the creator. Jesus expects those kinds of changes in our life. Then we saw the leprosy, the crippled, the sick, the blind etc. There all Jesus had done the miracles. Those miracles made a big changes or transformation to the existing life. Unless and until we make a change in our life, we cannot see Jesus Christ. Even if you try, the Satan never allows you to do so; but we need to overcome the Satan. To overcome Satan we need to submit ourselves to God. That means we are having all these problems which gives us the impedance not to see Jesus Christ. The Great lent means, we need to cleanse or remove the impedance one by one and wash our eyes in the Pond of Silo-am to see our savior Jesus Christ.
Luke 19:29-38, “And it came to pass, when he came nigh to Beth phage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, He sent two of his disciples, saying, “Go into the village over against you; in the which at your entering you shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat; and bring . And if any man asks you, why do you lose him? Thus shall you say unto him, because the Lord has need of him? And they found even as he had said to them. And as they were losing the colt, the owner questioned, why do you lose the colt? And they said The Lord needs of him. They brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. As he went, they spread their
cloths in the way. And when he came nearby, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise Lord with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.”
We can see another reference in Mathew Chapter 21 verses 1-11, When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Beth phage, at the Mount of Olives, This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus have directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead and followed Him were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, who is this? The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Why did Jesus Christ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey? He could have asked to get a precious chariot if he had wanted to. Jesus is described as riding on a donkey in apparent fulfillment of a prophecy in Zechariah 9:9-10 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, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war-horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. Also it shows the humility of Jesus. Back then there was no such thing as fancy cars. People used to ride on Horses, Chariots, Camels, & Donkeys. So Jesus had chosen the donkey the lowest grade ride to show His simplicity and fulfillment of the prophecy. Our Lord Jesus Christ had shown His own life in which a man should follow. In this present world the word of simplicity is vanishing gradually. But our Valiya Thirumeni, H.G. Mathew Mar Barnabas was the role model of the simplicity
Mark’s Gospel was the earliest of the New Testament gospels and in this Gospel, the crowd spread leafy branches on the road, just as the Jews used leafy branches in the celebration of the Sukkoth festival held at a different time of the year. Mark 11:8 says “Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.” The words used at the Sukkoth are reflected in
Mark 11:9: “And they that went before and they followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; blessed be he that comes in the name of the Lord. The Jewish eight day celebration of the harvest, known as Sukkoth, and also called the Festival of the Tabernacles was probably the most popular holiday among the Jews in the first century. In the observance of Sukkoth, worshippers processed through Jerusalem and in the Temple, waving a bunch of leafy branches made of willow, myrtle and palm. As they waved these branches in that procession, the worshippers recited Psalm 118, “Save us, we beseech you, O Lord.” In Hebrew save us is called hosianna or as we call it ‘hosanna’. This is followed by “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. (Psalm 118:25-26).
The gospel tells of Jesus frequently walking quite long distances, but by having Jesus ride a donkey, the author demonstrates his royal status and his telepathetic ability to know where a donkey could be found. And the evangelist wrote the entire account to create and apparently fulfill a prophecy of Jesus. Likewise we also celebrate Hosanna by holding the palm leaves and lead the procession to Jerusalem. Among these palm leaves, you can see the cross made by the palm leaves. The cross is the symbol of Jesus Christ. According to our Orthodox tradition we make only one cross with palm leaves and once the palm leaves are blessed, no one is authorized to cut and make any cross with that. That’s why God had commanded Moses to elevate the Brass Cross in the middle of the tent; and to look up on the cross that will be healed from the bite of the serpent. That you can easily see in the middle of our Church is called Gogultha or umnnortha.
Now let us compare our life to Hosanna. We are just the owner of the donkey. Because we are very reluctant to come to Church but we have no hesitation to give anything to the Church to a certain extent. He had no problem to send the donkey for Jesus. Another one we proclaim or with our utter voice we shout that He is the King of King, but with the same mouth we shout crucify! Crucify him forever. One thing I know is that Jesus still loves us unconditionally. Another thing when Jesus entered in to the Father’s house that is the Temple of Jerusalem, it was a painful scene that He noticed there. It is clearly visible that in Mathew Chapter 21 verses 12 & 13, Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the furniture of those who sold pigeons, and said to them “It is written in the scriptures that God said, my temple will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a hideout for thieves”. Assume, during our holy Qurbana, if Jesus comes to this Church, What will happen?
Jesus will definitely drive some of us out because even though we are not actually selling or buying anything relating to money. We do this all while we are in Church; for example when we use our phones during service. Achen is busy celebrating the holy Eucharist but we are busy thinking about our daily schedule and thinking about others. We may be physically present in Church but not mentally. This we need to change. We should submit ourselves to God and make the necessary changes to please God. That will be an everlasting blessing for us and for our forth coming generations. We are entering into Passion Week; if we can not whole heartily rejoice Hosanna or make a change in our life, we cannot rejoice the Resurrection of the Lord. May the Lord God almighty shower His blessings up on us all. Amen