Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: Holy Week

Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:8–10).

This is the joyous response we will cry out to our Lord when we permit Him to enter our souls. “Hosanna in the highest!” The word ‘hosanna’ is not a cry of praise but a plea for salvation. It is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “save, please,” or “save now.” The root words are found in Psalm 118:25: “Save us, we beseech thee, O Lord!” We must sincerely offer this prayer as we enter into Holy Week because it goes to the heart of the week’s two central messages: We need a Savior, and Jesus is that Savior. 

Do you realize you need a Savior? On the surface it might be easy to answer, “Yes!” But how deep is that realization within your soul? Sometimes we can fall into the subtle temptation to think, “I’m a good person; I deserve Heaven.” But thinking this way is contrary to the prayer, “Hosanna!”

By extending the prayer to “Hosanna in the highest!” we are saying, “O Lord, the divine one from Heaven, save us from our sins!” In order to pray this prayer deeply, sincerely, and in the way it is intended to be prayed, it is essential that we come to a profound realization of our need for the Messiah. Without His Incarnation, death, and Resurrection, we would not be saved. Instead, we would die in our sins and forever live in misery. That fact can be hard to accept, but if we do comprehend this mysterious truth, we will be able to cry out, “Hosanna in the highest!”

Recognizing our need for a Savior is humbling. We must admit our weakness and complete inability to save ourselves. But the good news is that we do not need to save ourselves. Though we are called to a life of charity and good works, those acts are not the source of our salvation—Jesus is. Once in a state of grace, it is our unfathomable privilege to share in His act of love by participating in the charity and mercy flowing into our lives from His, and bestowing it upon others.

Jesus’ triumphant entry into the holy city of Jerusalem symbolizes His entry into your soul by grace. When He comes to you, lay the palms of your gratefulness and reverence before Him. Cry out, “Save me, Lord, I beseech You! Hosanna in the highest!” If you can humble yourself today on Palm Sunday and more fully welcome your Savior into your soul, then the mysteries we participate in this Holy Week will be much more fruitful. The days leading up to the Triduum will inspire you to ponder what is about to happen. Holy Thursday will invite you to share more fully in the Eucharistic Banquet of Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, and will lead you to a more profound life of humble service in imitation of our Lord. Good Friday is the most powerful and transformative day of the year on which we share in the saving Sacrifice of Christ’s Cross. We do not celebrate the Mass that day because the day itself is the instrument of the grace of the Cross. Holy Saturday is a day of hopeful anticipation, and Easter Sunday is the culminating day of joy over Christ’s victory.

Ponder the week ahead and resolve to enter into one day at a time. Begin today by humbling yourself and acknowledging you need a Savior, the one and only Savior of the world. Cry out to Him and beg Him to save you.

Hosanna to You, my Lord and Savior, hosanna in the highest! Please come to me and save me. Help me to see my absolute need for Your saving action in my life and to welcome You more fully into the temple of my Soul. Hosanna in the highest! Jesus, I trust in You!

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