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Hosanna Palm Sunday

          Hosanna, also known as Palm Sunday, is one of the moveable feasts of our Lord, occurring on the Sunday before Easter. This feast celebrates Jesus's entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9), marked by the laying of palm branches along His path, preceding His arrest on Holy Thursday and His crucifixion on Good Friday. It inaugurates Passion Week, the final week of Lent. The account of Hosanna (Palm Sunday) is narrated as follows according to Matthew 21:1-16:

Jesus spent considerable time traveling through the towns and villages around Jerusalem, preaching about the kingdom of God and healing the sick. As they approached Jerusalem, Jesus instructed two of His disciples to fetch a donkey from a nearby village. Jesus then rode into Jerusalem on this donkey. Crowds spread their coats on the ground before Him and waved palm branches, a sign of victory, as Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims gathered for the annual Passover celebration. The people exclaimed, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" –(Psalm 118:26).

         In Ethiopian churches, this event is commemorated by decorating with palms. The Archdeacon distributes palm branches to the congregation, echoing the greeting Jesus received as He entered Jerusalem. It's a custom for worshippers in Ethiopian churches to receive fresh palm leaves on Palm Sunday. The temple walls are adorned with palm emblems, and believers often fashion palm fronds into crosses or rings, or tie them on their heads, preparing for the Sunday procession.

        The reason Jesus rode on a donkey was to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9 KJV).


         The symbolism of the donkey, traditionally considered an animal of peace as opposed to the horse, an animal of war, is significant. A king would ride on a horse when he was bent on war and on a donkey when he wished to signify peace. Thus, Jesus's entry into Jerusalem symbolized His arrival as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king. In many cultures, donkeys are viewed as humble creatures of little value. Jesus's choice to ride on a donkey signifies His peaceful and humble approach. According to church tradition, palm branches have long symbolized goodness and victory. For instance, Abraham held palm branches to praise the Lord when his first child Isaac was born, and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob, followed suit. Similarly, the Israelites used palm branches to praise the Lord during their exodus.

Source: Holy Bible, King James Version, 1769.
The Ethiopian Gospel Commentary, 1983 E.C. (pp. 233-236)

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