Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020
– Matthew 21:1-11
– The Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas –
As a young pastor serving a church in a poor section of Little Rock, Arkansas, I joined a coalition of churches that successfully prevented X-rated movie houses and related industry from moving into an already depressed neighborhood. We were warned of the dangers of putting up a resistance since this industry had criminal connections. But I wasn’t convinced until one evening when a bullet zipped through the kitchen window of the parsonage where I was washing dishes. My wife and I were certainly shaken by the event; but that’s when I decided to take the dog for a walk around the block, for I was determined not to live a captive to fear in my home and neighborhood. After all, Jesus came to set the captives free.
Nonetheless, as I think back on that evening, I realize how stupid I was in reacting the way I did. A preferable course of action would have been rallying the neighborhood to join me in resisting evil that acts in darkness and shuns the light.
Jesus was welcomed by the people of Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna,” meaning “save us!” This cry for salvation may have been directed against many foes including corrupt political and religious officials and their financial benefactors who victimized the less fortunate.
This cry echoes throughout the ages and reflects the anxieties of many today seeking liberation from political, economic and religious insensitivities within our nation and world, added to the heightened fear of death brought on by the corona pandemic. Hosanna, save us!
The procession to which Jesus invites us is a movement of salvation from sideline low self-esteem to mainline liberators who take back and claim their God-given rights to live in dignity, safety and free from fear. Hosanna remains our cry to Christ to fill us with God’s spirit of salvation that we may save ourselves, each other, and our world from captivity to fear and death.
Hosanna, blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord. Amen.