Palm Sunday Starts the 'Holy Week' – “Hosanna to the son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest”
by Elizabeth Menon

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Palm Sunday Starts the 'Holy Week' – “Hosanna to the son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest”



'The Holy Week' starts today with the celebration of 'Palm Sunday'! Palm Sunday is the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Festival, the 'Passover'. He entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey and the people welcomed Him carrying palm leaves and olive branches, shouting "Hosanna", and they threw their cloaks on the ground in front of him! They chanted, “Hosanna to the son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest” (Mt 21:9). (For those who haven't studied the Bible: the reference, "Son of David", doesn't mean that Jesus is the son of David, but, by saying 'Son of David', it's relating to the genealogy of Jesus, showing that jesus is a descendant of King David! Jesus was born around 1000 years after King David! But the genealogy is given differently by Matthew and Luke: Matthew gives three sets of 14 generations(42 generations) starting with Abraham, to focus that jesus was the 'Messiah'! But Luke starts with Adam, 76 generations, focusing that Jesus was the 'Saviour of the world'! But Luke starts with Adam, 76 generations, focusing that Jesus was the 'Saviour of the world', and both gospels differing in the details from King David to Jesus also!)

'Palm Sunday', or 'Hosanna Sunday', as we say in Kerala, is always the beginning of a big celebration, and I remember how excited we were as children! During the Church Service on Palm Sunday, each of us took basket full of flowers and every time the word, 'Hosanna' was chanted we threw flowers to show reverence! It was a big thing for us as kids, to wake up early in the morning to hunt for flowers, from our own courtyard and those of the neighbours, and we didn't stop at anything – beg, borrow, steal -- and the neighbours didn't mind just because it was 'Hosanna Sunday'! I remember each of us competing as to who collects more flowers! But things gradually changed as we grew older, handing over the baton to the young ones! But amidst all this, none of us forgot the importance and reverence of the day, as the 'Start of the 'Holy week'! Those who followed the Lent (50 days in India, starting from the Sunday before the Shrove Tuesday, while it is 40 days elsewhere in the world, starting from 'Ash Wednesday', which is the day after 'Shrove Tuesday' and Sundays are excluded), it was 50 days without meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, etc, but now there are days when the rules are relaxed, but some of us still follow the strict regime, but again, it is what one believes and not for show!


Jesus travelled from the small village of Bethany to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, and for the people, it was the triumphant procession of their 'King' on to the big City of Jerusalem and the Church! 'Hosanna' is the Hebrew equivalent of 'Hoshianna', which was a 'Cry in distress or a Prayer for Deliverance'. But the meaning has evolved over the years and now it generally is a 'Cry of jubilation and a Spiritual Acclamation of God'! There are special 'Evening Prayers' in churches during the Holy week and then the 'Day of Humility' on 'Maundy Thursday' (In UK, the Queen gives out the specially made 'Maundy' money on this day to pensioners, 88 pence this year, matching her age).Then the holiest day, 'Good Friday', the day of 'Crucifixion' and then of course, the expectant wait for the jubilant 'Resurrection' of Jesus on 'Easter Sunday'!

And to those of us who have been following the Lent, since the 'Shrove Tuesday' would have another reason for the excitement -- the celebratory Lunch on Easter Sunday with everything they have forsaken during the Lent! But it is also a day of new beginning with the firm pledge to help fellow beings, especially women and children and the elderly in our society, and to protect our planet. We must also learn to respect those, whose views are different from our own for a better new world, just as the start of the new era, all those years ago! “Hosanna to the son of David; Hosanna in the highest”

© E Menon

 

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