I put the question mark in the title because I was asking myself, am I really ready to say “Hosanna” with the crowds in Matthew’s gospel? They turned out to be pretty fickle bunch after a few days. Is it conviction that motivates what I say and do, or is it convenience? I’m praying for conviction!
What motivates you? I don’t mean motivate. I mean MmmmOTIVATE!
I don’t think Matthew’s crowds were insincere. After all, their whole faith was rooted in expecting a Messiah, and Jesus was looking like he might be the One.
What got in their way? Was their faith just paper-thin? Maybe. It was certainly open to being manipulated by the religious leaders. For the leaders, Jesus is becoming an intolerable challenge to their authority. He heals the blind and the lame who weren’t even supposed to enter the temple areas; he starts challenging the leaders with questions that show them for who they are, anything but religious in the best sense of the word.
‘Re-lignare,’ the basis of the word religion, literally means ‘to re-tie.’ It was the leaders who were supposed to be retying the relationships BETWEEN God and his people. All people wanted was someone who could speak clearly about God to them. Jesus was raising their hopes.
The religious leaders knew they had to blur who and what Jesus was or they would be out of their jobs. And so begins their intense work that changes the mood of the folk from the palm-waving enthusiasts to the saddened and disillusioned.
That’s why it challenges me to speak the Hosanna of a triumphant Palm Sunday, because I know we will recall the betrayals and ultimate con¬quest of death itself before we get to Easter.
I need to immerse myself in what Jesus went through, precisely so won’t dare take for granted the incredible outcome of his passion and death.
That’s the journey we make together throughout these sacred days. Last Tuesday gathered us for a Service of Reconciliation. The Triduum, our three holiest days, calls us at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday, and 3:00 p.m. on Friday.
Easter Sunday brings many visitors at 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Be nice to them and they will come back April 16th for Divine Mercy Sunday.
On another front, I have shared this little story with you in the past, but it is worth repeating.
You received the palm crosses as part of our celebration today. It might seem like we were too cheap to buy some larger fronds. BUT...
These crosses come from Masai, Tanzania where families weave the crosses (and more recently tote bags) throughout the year as a way of supporting their families.
Some years ago, 1965, an Episcopalism priest, Father Alan Talbot began his service for six years as a missionary in Tanzania. He looked for ways of relieving their poverty and came up with the idea of the crosses that could be sold for Palm Sunday. He returned to the States, and in 1976, the women of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Olney, Maryland, undertook the huge work of distributing the palms to churches throughout the United States. AFRICAN PALMS USA continues to this day and we are happy to be a part of the project.
Our order brochure says, “Since its inception, African Palms USA has awarded nearly $2 million to African communities to help meet basic human needs such as drinking water, HIV/AIDS education, fighting hunger and farming ventures.”
Now that is a true HOSANNA!