The Eighth Sunday "Hosaena=ሆሳዕና": Savior: Palm Sunday
(St John 12: 12-19)
LESSON - II
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. Because of this this glorification by the people; the priests and scribes were finally driven “to destroy him, to put him to death” [Lk 19:47; Jn 11:53, 112:10].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. Indeed the “Lamb came with the lambs” not led by a shepherd to be sold, but was led to be slaughtered by His everlasting love!. The Lord entered Jerusalem and the whole city was shaken. He entered it in a humility it could not endure and the foundation of evil it it were shaken. When Christ enter into my heart, He shakes it. When He want to embrace you and me and even when we do not want Him, He enters humbly and shakes it.
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 apostle Peter and John the beloved. In the above verses that one can note that God came to call all the people [Jews and Gentiles alike] to salvation by sending His disciples. The Old donkey symbolize the Jews who hasn’t 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, represents the new people who have been called from idolatry to faith. Those people who were deprived by nature from 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].
The significance of sending two messages to bring the colt represent the two tools God used to win over the Gentiles by the apostles who were using the works of the Law and prophets.
St. John Chrysostom, “It is amusing that the owner of the donkey and the colt didn’t argue with the disciple, but he instead obeyed them. So, how much more it is fitting for His disciple 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 is coming up to the temple, Zechariah in advance warned them, giving the sign to recognise Him.” Although man has been created in likeness of God, St Cyril the Great stated, he become 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. [Mtt. 21- 6,8]. Indeed the disciples has 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 placed on the animal, indicate the virtual teaching or the bible interpreting; as well as the rights 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. Augustin.
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!"
And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”
“The disciples praised the savior of us all. They called Him: the King and the Lord. they said Peace in the heaven and on earth. Would we also praise Him as the psalmist had done before saying to Him : “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all [Ps. 104:24], ” said St. Cyril, the great.
“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. Augustin.
Lord, grant us we may greet you with palm branches. Purify our heart, the holy of holies of our life. Grant us that we may offer our life a pleasing fragrance to You, like the aroma of the olive branches. “Your love made you descend from Your chariot to the naked ass. Instead of the innumerable host of the Cherubim, You are carried by a humble ass from our village. You mercies made You leave throne and the luminous and radiant faces and now the son of an ass honours You” [St. Jacoub the Seroug].
Plot to kill
Now it came to pass, when the time had come .. He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, [Lk 9:51]
Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!” [Gen. 37:18-20]
Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him. [Jn 11:57]
Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.” [Jer 18:18]
Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” [Matt. 20:17-19]
But the Lord is is with me as a mighty, awesome One; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed [Jer 20:11].
The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about. [Lk 18:34]
The Pharisees seeing everything was furious and angry, then they then 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 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 Mass 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 [Passion week] prayers and readings. For this reason, a general prayer for the departed is held after Palm Sunday Mass, 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 Shenoda , and others.