Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

“We are on pilgrimage with the Lord to the heights. We are striving for pure hearts and clean hands, we are seeking truth, we are seeking the face of God. Let us show the Lord that we desire to be righteous, and let us ask him: Draw us upwards! Make us pure! Grant that the words which we sang in the processional psalm may also hold true for us; grant that we may be part of the generation which seeks God, “which seeks your face, O God of Jacob” (cf. Ps 24:6). Amen.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Sermon, Palm Sunday 2011)

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Hosanna is a liturgical word used in both Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, it is always used in its original Hebrew form, Hoshana.
“Hoshana” (הושענא) is a Hebrew word meaning “please save or save now.”
In the Old Testament the word Hosanna often is used in the form of asking for God’s help–as in–Save us–now.

I pulled this mini word origin lesson from last year’s Palm Sunday post as I often think it is important to understand the history of our language and of the words we use. So often we carelessly use and speak our words with little to no regard of meaning or regard. On the other hand, we may use our words with specific malice and the intent of causing hurtful pain.

Whoever said “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” was never a young child who was the victim of the hurtful things children often say to one another. Nor were they the child who was on the receiving end of a verbal assault by an abusive parent—being told repeatedly that they were no good, worthless, unwanted, etc. Those words have devastating and lasting results.

Today’s words we hear being used echo a proclamation of majesty and that of a triumphal entry. Little did those who sang of the triumphal proclamation almost 2000 years ago, of that regal entry, realize that the moment they were hailing their would-be king, they were actually marking the beginning of a world changing event. Theirs were the words which proclaimed the presence of a king.
A game changer.
A Messiah.
A Savior.

It was but a few short days following those regal proclamations, fit only for a king, that the words changed. Words such a “fool,” “traitor,” “guilty,” “blasphemer,” rang from their lips. Those previous majestic words were quickly replaced with vehemence, mockery and anger.
Previous words of praise quickly transformed to words of hatred and denial.
“I do not know him”
“Crucify him”
“Free Barabas”
“Traitor”
“He is not our king”

Amazing how quickly we can change our words. We may not be able to literally “take back” words which are spoken, but we can recant them, change them, no longer claim them as our own. . .as in the expression “talking out of both sides of our mouth”

The question to you today is what word do you choose?
Words of praise or words of ridicule and denial?
“Please save us now”
or
“I do not know him.”
“Crucify him!”

Word choices on a palm Sunday.
May we choice our words wisely. . .

Hosanna in the Highest

I chose to take the journey

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And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

Today marks the beginning of the journey to the Cross. It is a journey that will take believers, the Christian, on a single lonely path as they re-live the time of a poignant last supper, a devastating betrayal, and a grievous passion. There is thankfully an ending, however, already in sight. This is as ending not of darkness, death and finality. There is Victory at the end of this path–and an offering of Light, Hope and Joy. It is a journey, however, not to be taken lightly, but rather with determined purpose. It is a bit of a solitary journey as each person who walks this path must examine, inwardly, their own life’s direction.

There is of course a choice–whether to start the journey at all and then whether to continue the journey to its end. It is a free choice. The choice is left for each of us to consider. I believe if you ask anyone who has already begun the journey, that the choice of the taking the journey, walking the path, is the only correct choice.

Here is to a the journey.

(photograph: Cortona, Italy :path to Santa Margherita and Medici Frotezza
Julie Cook 2007)