“We move in spirit from proclaiming Jesus to be the messiah, to hearing the crowd in the Gospel jeer at him and use his claim of being the messiah to be a reproach.There is a very beautiful poem about this by a man named Samuel Crossman, My Song is Love Unknown. And I think he captures very well this almost shocking juxtaposition. ‘Sometimes,’ he writes, ‘they strew his way and his sweet praises sing; resounding all the day hosannas to their King. Then “Crucify!” is all their breath, and for their death they thirst and cry.’
“I would like to suggest that a way to see these two very, very different moments of holy week – to see them as one – is by considering the word, the acclamation, ‘Hosanna!’ ‘Hosanna,’ the scholars tell us, is based on Hebrew and Aramaic, means ‘Save us!’ – but ‘Save us!’ already cried out in a time of victory. ‘Continue to save us! Be the victor, you, Son of David!’
“So I’m suggesting today that we see already when the crowd on Palm Sunday cries out to Jesus ‘Hosanna!’ – we see it as a kind of a prophecy. They are welcoming the one who would deliver them. They are welcoming the one who had been prophesied, foretold, the son of David. But he would deliver them by humiliation. They were saying more than they knew, to cry out ‘Hosanna!’ They were saying what God knows. That Jesus Christ is victor by failing. That Jesus Christ conquers by humiliation. That Jesus Christ destroys sin and death by love.
“That this is the case with the word ‘Hosanna’ is verified by the fact that you and I never gather for the celebration of the Eucharist, we never offer the Holy Sacrifice, we never remember the Lord’s Passover, without making that cry our own: ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”