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The 8th Sunday of Lent: Hosanna

"Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!

O King of Israel, Hosanna in the Highest!

Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord;

We bless you from the house of the Lord.

God is the Lord and has appeared unto us. "

Psalm 117:26-27


This is the eighth and final Sunday in the Great Lent Fast and is called Hosanna or Palm Sunday. This day commemorates our Lord's final journey into Jerusalem, riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, while the people acknowledged him as the Son of David, the King, coming in the name of the Lord, and placed palms under him. The whole event teaches us that Christ, our Lord, the good shepherd, was about to lay down his life for the sheep. Christ had observed all the laws and was about to observe the Passover feast in Jerusalem and fulfill all righteousness. For Christ is to become our Passover, a pure sacrifice. The Lamb of God is about to be offered for us all and become the true eternal king of body, soul, and spirit. This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'" The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:


"Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"


Yes, come all of you to see the wonderful thing which was done in the house of prayer when the high priest entered within the veil, which all said was the dwelling place of the Deity and the concealing of all thoughts. The Lord of lords and spirits entered therein riding upon the lowly colt of an ass. He revealed His Divinity to all the infants who said, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, and blessed are you, Lord, God of gods, and King of Israel."


Reading related to this Day:

Luke 19:1-11; Psalm 121:1-2; Matthew 20:29-finish; Psalm 147:1-2; Mark 10:46-finish; Psalm 117:27-28; Luke 18:35-finish; Psalm 67:34; Matthew 9:26-finish; Psalm 9:11-12; Matthew 21:1-18; Psalm 8:2; Mark 11:1-13; Psalm 49:1-2; Luke 19:28-finish; Psalm 80:3-4; John 12:12-20; Hebrews 9:11-finish; 1 Peter 4:1-12; Acts 28:11-finish; Psalm 8:2; John 5:11-31


Misbak of this Sunday:

"Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger." Psalm 8:2


LESSON:

On Palm Sunday, the Lord Jesus Christ went to Jerusalem where He was gloriously received as a King: The people praised and cheered Him with palms, spreading their robes under His feet, and the whole city was in turmoil (Matt. 21:10). This annoyed the chief priests and the elders of the people: scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. They envied Him for the great love people felt for Him, so they started thinking of a way to get rid of Him! They were more upset when He entered the temple and expelled all who were buying and selling.


Sending the Disciple:

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” (Mt. 21)

According to Church teaching, the two disciples are apostles Peter and John the beloved. In the above verses, one can note that God came to call all the people [Jews and Gentiles alike] to salvation by sending His disciples. The old donkey symbolizes the Jews who haven't been paying attention to the Laws and prophets. Moreover, it is symbolic of their disobedience to Christ, who has invited them to faith, and intended to open their eyes by saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” As for the colt, since it is a baby donkey that knows not work at all, it represents the new people who have been called from idolatry to faith. Those people who were deprived by nature of wisdom and were wandering in darkness, but Christ came as their wisdom, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” [Col. 2:3].

St. John Chrysostom, “It is amusing that the owner of the donkey and the colt didn’t argue with the disciples, but he instead obeyed them. So, how much more is it fitting for His disciples to bring to Him everything?”


Prophecy of our Lord and God entering Jerusalem:

This was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’” [Mt. 21:4-5, Zach. 9:9]

St. John Chrysostom, “As the prophet Zechariah had realized the malice of the Jews and their potential resistance to Christ while He was coming up to the temple, Zechariah in advance warned them, giving the sign to recognize Him.” Although man has been created in the likeness of God, St. Cyril the Great stated, he became no longer able to recognize God, the Creator and Maker of all things, because the devil has brought down all people to the lowest level of imprudence and folly.


Entry to Jerusalem:

So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. [Mt. 21:6-8]

Indeed, the disciples have brought the Jews as well as the Gentiles to Christ through His teaching and Baptism. St. Jerome said this about the clothes: “The clothes, which have been placed on the animal, indicate the virtuous teaching or the Bible interpretation; as well as the rites of the Church. Unless the soul be ornamented with these matters and clothed in them, it will not be deserving to carry the Lord.” The tree or palm branches “indicate the triumph, as the Lord was coming to overcome death by death, and to defeat the devil, the master of death, with His triumphant Cross”

- St. Augustine.


Hosanna:

Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” [Mt. 21:9] “The heaven is the human soul. So the work of Christ, the Redeemer, had brought back to the soul her inner peace and the enjoyment of flying up to the highest, to glorify her Bridegroom” - St. Augustine.


Plot to kill:

The Pharisees, seeing everything, were furious and angry, then they asked Him, "By what authority are You doing these things?" (Matt. 21:23). Since then, they decided to kill Him, telling one another, "Look, the world has gone after Him," (John. 12:19). The chief's desire to kill the Lord Christ was due to their envy, but the puzzling thing is the change in the multitude's attitude; they received Him like a King, then shouted to Pilate, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" (Luke. 23:21). When the crowds cheered Jesus, they looked at Him as an earthly King, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David" (Mark 11:9-10). But the Lord Jesus refused a Kingdom on earth, as His is a Heavenly Spiritual one. The plot to get rid of the Nazarene was then a natural reaction from the Chiefs who lost hope in the long-awaited kingdom! The Church considers the end of Palm Sunday Liturgy the beginning of the Passion Week, as the plot to kill the Lord Jesus Christ started to develop since then.


General Prayer for the Departed:

Through the Passion Week, the Church is preoccupied with the Lord's sufferings only; there is no raising of incense even for funerals, but replaced by the Semune Himmamat prayers and readings. For this reason, a general prayer for the departed is held after Palm Sunday Liturgy, for the souls of those who pass away during the Holy Pascha. The priest prays on some water for this purpose, and not for blessing the palms as some may think. During these prayers, we have to confess our sins to the Lord in true repentance, as we never know when our life will end.


Source: A Journey with the Church Fathers through Lent, Passion Week, and Pentecost by Fr. Mikhail, Pope Shenouda, and others.




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