Hosanna in the highest; what praise, what great depth of beauty and worship that the multitudes cry to Christ! Who really is this Man that comes riding on a donkey with great humility? He comes with neither army nor stallion with His head void of the majesty deserving thereof. As Christ the King enters through the gates of Jerusalem, the multitudes greet Him with exceeding bliss, they proclaim, “Hosanna.” But what is the meaning of the term uttered in all four of the Gospels? Derived from the Hebrew as meaning “save, rescue”, the heart reaches out to her Lord calling for salvation from He alone who can offer it. Although exalted above all, the Most High humbled Himself and took the form of a servant (Phil 2:7) and blessed my nature in Himself in order to save me.
Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem,
Then You shall be pleased with sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.(Ps 51:18-19)
Jerusalem, standing tall upon Mount Zion and shielded by her high walls, is no more than a representation of my heart. How long have I hid behind your walls as my Savior sent prophets for me, I the sick? He even laments over my condition: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34) I have shut the gates of my heart to Your words and left them open to those who loot and bring destruction. The temple of my heart has become a den of thieves and a source of lamentation; my hope has diminished. Rebuild, O Lord, the walls of my heart that I may, once again, offer sacrifices upon the altar within my heart: the altar hewn from the stone of my heart. You, O Lord, are a Good and Lover of Mankind, doing good throughout the land (Acts 10:38); come quickly to my city and, also, do good here to build that which has been destroyed by my negligence. Therefore, the God of all contradictions enters humbly upon a colt and melts the prideful heart; though the Savior was welcomed as a king into the city, He lodged not within the walls, but at a distance, in Bethany. But what is Bethany? Bethany is the “the house of affliction.” For when my heart welcomed her Savior by the day, she did not offer Him residence by night but sent Him to toil in the house of suffering. He indeed drove out the thieves from the temple of my heart but He, Himself, did not lodge there.
Jerusalem is built
As a city that is compact together (Ps 122:3)
The heart, formerly anchored in the shelter of her Creator, in an effort to renew that bond, calls out from amongst the chaos of thoughts and emotions to the Fountain of Life. Christ did not enter into a quiet, calm city but rather a metropolis bustling with the business of everyday life and in anticipation and preparation for the upcoming Passover. Yet, amidst this commotion, Christ humbly enters through the gates and calms the multitudes with His loving smile and His deep eyes filled with compassion towards the people snatched in a life of fuss. Jerusalem’s citizens are consumed with gossip in the streets, business in the market, politics at the table, worship in the temple; a people pressed, a city compacted. Be still. Look carefully and observe Who enters the gates of the city and cry out to Him, for He comes to give salvation freely! Free yourself from entanglement in the world and let Him walk through your streets giving them life and joy! For when the Lord came into Jerusalem, the whole city rejoiced and was uplifted. Lay-out your garments before Him and offer Him the finest apparel that the world has given you so that He may give much what is much more precious! Sing with the children of Jerusalem: Hosanna in the Highest!
The Church, in all of Her depth and wisdom, offers us the richness of the Scriptures in finding the spiritual depth of this great day. The Vespers Psalm for the day proclaims the same song sung by the multitudes at the arrival of the Master into Jerusalem, while the remainder of the psalm continues to say “God is the Lord, and He has given us light.” (Ps 118:26-27) The True Light overcomes the darkness of the heart and His authority over that darkness comforts us as we hear the Psalmist sing, “He bowed the heavens also, and came down with darkness under His feet.” (Ps 18:9) And again, “For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” (Ps 18:28) On that Sunday, the Church is decorated with palms and flowers as we receive our King into our hearts and welcome Him back to His proper throne, simply telling Him, “Lord, let my heart, though not worthy and clamored with all of my fears, thoughts and emotions, be for You a throne so that you, O God, may govern my life and give me light.”
Author: Kyrillos Rizkalla