The hosannas that ring out on Palm Sunday should echo throughout Holy Week. Today, we understand hosanna as a word bound up with Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem; it is a term of praise and adoration, fitting for the celebration that ensues when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem in advance of Passover.
As the cries of welcome soon change to calls for crucifixion, however, hosanna continues to resonate, because the Hebrew and Aramaic roots of the word translate to a call to be saved, to be rescued. Heard in this light, the hosannas of Palm Sunday not only serve to laud but also to foreshadow the passion narrative. They are cries both of need and of acknowledgement of the one who answers that need.
As such, the hosannas heard on Palm Sunday should have a particularly personal call, linking us with the crowds in Jerusalem. We have the benefit of knowing that the suffering of Holy Week is not the end. Our hosannas recognize our own sinfulness while voicing our gratitude for the sacrifice that offers us salvation from sin.
This dual nature of the word befits the paschal mystery. We know the joy of Easter precisely because we also know the sorrow of the cross. Christ’s self-giving rescues us, a reality which should prompt us to join in calling out, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed are you who come in your abundant mercy!”