Hosanna In The Highest
A Reflection for Palm Sunday 2010
Based on the readings from Isaiah 50:4 – 7, Philippians 2:5-11, Luke 22:14 - 23:56 (Passion of Our Lord)
By Fr. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy
"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel" (Matthew 21:9) shouted the people lining the road into Jerusalem. This joyful reception by the Jewish people to Jesus entrance into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, could compare to the accolades and reception that the winners of the World Series or the Super Bowl experience on return to their respective cities. They are received as conquering heroes and indeed Jesus was just that kind of hero and still is to those of us who believe in Him and accept Him as the only begotten son of God.
It can be assumed that many of those same people who were shouting Hosanna, four days later would be in the crowds shouting, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him" because he did not meet their expectations of Him or because they succumbed to greed and accepted bribes from the powers of the temple elite.
We have seen in our lives just such a turn around by a super hero of the World Series who deserts the team he played with that won the series and goes over to an opposing team because they offered him a huge sum of money that the deep pocket owner could afford and who places winning over all at any price. When the player returns to his former team he is no longer cheered but booed and treated with contempt.
In the past few years we have seen a great deal of publicity about the newly discovered Gospel of Judas, the supposed discovery of the tomb of Jesus and a resurgence of publicity about THE DIVINCI CODE and HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL, THE LOST GOSPELS and other "New discoveries that call into question the basis of Christianity.
The speculation, by some, is that these new revelations might change our beliefs.
I do not know how our beliefs or the truth of Jesus teachings could be changed by these supposed new revelations.
The truth is, Jesus Christ lived, Christ died, Christ was resurrected, and Christ came to save all people of the world, not a select few.
During Christ's life He broke all the rules and regulations of the Jewish faith and did not discriminate against anyone.
If anything, these discoveries should only serve to strengthen our faith and belief in a loving and merciful God.
They change nothing about the main facts.
These "New Discoveries" along with numerous non-religious historical documents acknowledge that Jesus was real. All of them affirm that he gave us a new covenant, "LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART, MIND, SOUL AND BODY AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU"
The "Gnostic Gospels" as they are called are all based on the writings of the early Christians communities; and in most cases, they support and have much of the same information as we find in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which we were raised on.
The Gnostic Gospels, as the lost Gospels are called, proclaimed that salvation could be achieved by knowledge.
That statement is true; we need the Knowledge of who God is.
We need to know how we can serve God. We need to know God's intent and desire for us. In order to know, love and serve God as we have been instructed to do we have to know God's lesson plan for us and then follow it.
None of the so called "New Discoveries" disagree with what we find in the Gospels concerning the events of the final days of Christ.
Jesus Himself told us; "Seek and you will find, Knock and it will be opened to you, Ask and you shall receive" none of these "recent" findings change a thing.
The Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, according to the versions being read today by either Matthew or Luke, opened the road to everlasting salvation for us.
Even if the most recent finding "The Gospel of Judas" has any truth, it affirms that Jesus had to die in order for our salvation to be assured. It is purported to state, "For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." By that, scholars familiar with Gnostic thinking said, "Jesus meant that by helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus."
This year the Passion of the final days of Christ's life will be read by all Christian churches, including the Orthodox churches, reminding us of the last hours of Christ on earth and what Christ was willing to endure for our sake. Matthew and Luke's Gospels begins with the celebration of Passover and the creation of the Eucharist, followed by the agony in the garden and Christ's saying, "Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, nevereless, not as I will, but as you will". Every day as part of my morning and evening prayers when I am petitioning God I end each petition with these words; "But not my will but your will be done Lord".
The Gospel continues by detailing the betrayal by Judas, the trials, the way of the cross and the crucifixion and ends with the burial of Christ.
Saint Paul's letter to the people of the Church community at Phillippi explains who Christ was and why He endured these sufferings. "Jesus Christ, although he shared God's nature, did not try to seize equality with God for himself; but he emptied himself and took on the form of a slave, by becoming a human man – not in appearance only, because he humbled himself by accepting death – even death on a cross. For this, God has raised him high, and given him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will proclaim "Jesus Christ is Lord", to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2)
During this final week of Lent, especially as we go through the holy Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday let us think about how we live and practice our faith every day.
During Passion Week, let us find ways to put an end to the dissentions and petty jurisdictional divides which exist mostly for power and profit which have separated the followers of Jesus Christ into many churches and find the means to unite the One Holy Catholic (Universal) Apostolic Church we profess in the creed as it was in the first centuries of Christianity.
The time is now to be faithful to God and our faith and not allow ourselves to be swayed away by supposed "New Truths".
Let us work together to find ways to join together as the family of Christ and children of God and gather as one family of faith in Christ.
Let us begin living in our daily lives the message of Jesus Christ in our actions, thoughts, words and deeds.
Let us be completely faithful to Almighty God and His beloved son Jesus Christ and proclaim loudly, "HOSANNA, HOSANNA, TO THE SON OF DAVID, HOSANNA! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD! HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST!" AMEN