You ever stand in an excited crowd and just feel overwhelmed by the emotions of the mob? You might know me to be a Boston Red Sox fan but my husband is a diehard Yankee fan. Every year we make a pilgrimage to Yankee Stadium to see a game each summer. There is nothing quite like going to a sporting event. All around you are mobs of excited fans of one team or another loudly proclaiming their pleasure or displeasure with their team. People come dressed in the jerseys of their favorite players; they eat ball park hot dogs, drink beer, and play fun mob style games like the wave. Though I am not a Yankee fan, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the excitement and joy of just being present for the game. In those moments, you easily become a part of the crowd, a part of the whole experience.
Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem came at a time when the energy of the city was at a peak, the Passover season. There were excited people running to and fro in the streets. Houses were overcrowded and the temple was making good money. The Romans were on high alert worried about the strength of such a crowd and so soldiers roamed the streets amongst the people tending to disputes. People were excitedly running around making their holiday preparations. I can’t help but think that even if you weren’t a member of this religious group that you might feel the excitement as well. It would have contagious.
This is the world that Jesus entered into on a colt. This was the world that Christ revealed his true identity to the world in. The result was a huge boost of energy to a crowded city already bursting from the seams. They came together with palms and cloaks showing honor to this person who was proclaiming himself to be Messiah, not in words but in actions. Jesus was whipping up the crowd into a frenzy of celebration for the wonders of what God was doing. Yet they didn’t quite know what was going to happen with this Messiah. Today we also celebrate with the crowds joining in the excitement that still rings clear in our hymns and in our worship as we remember the starting event of Holy Week.
We too carry the palm branches still sacred as they have been since the time of the writing of the Psalms meant to be a reminder of the true joy that Christ is the Messiah. We join in singing the Hosannas, “Save us now”. We no longer associate the Hosanna with the request for salvation. But the people of Jesus’ time sought salvation from the harshness of the world around them from Roman domination, from harsh judgment that was a part of society. They sought salvation from being cursed by God.
But I think in our world we too need to join with the crowd in asking Christ to save us now. We too have those things that we need saving from. We often need saving from our own foolishness and those times when we tend towards self harm. We need saving from our own poor decisions and the regrets that often mount up in life. We need saving from those fears that can stop us from progressing in our lives. We need saving. We need to join with the crowd as we sing our Hosannas. We need to come before Christ with our humanness confident that he will guide us through this life and into the next.
Pope Francis wrote in his Palm Sunday sermon in 2013, “We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders”. This week we begin the journey to the cross with Jesus starting this very day. All of Jesus’ disciples will fall away. But let us journey forward with him so that Jesus will not be alone. So we might learn from his experiences and learn to find God in the midst of times of great trial and struggle. Let us join with him knowing that this week we journey through a very familiar story that happened over a thousand years ago, knowing that as we remember his last days he journeys our lives with us today and every day. We can be confident that we have been given the forgiveness, love, and compassion that Jesus was not afforded in his life. We can come together this day assured that when we sing our Hosannas with the crowd that Jesus has taken the time to answer them before they have even left our lips.
God knows our struggles; he knows our hardships and Christ is carrying us upon his shoulders this day baring our hardships with us so we will not experience the same abandonment, loneliness, and troubles that he did that first Holy Week so long ago. He is our light in this life reminding us each day to live into the promise of the resurrection, to walk with trust, and to share the joy of such hope with others. We should take the spontaneous words of the crowd to heart and share them with others and in so doing sharing a hope that can lead people towards a better relationship with God. We should join in the song, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Sing this song, in your hearts this week and share the hope, joy, and confidence of the season with those who find themselves in need.
 Pope Francis, Palm Sunday 2013.
 Mark 11: 9-10, NRSV.
(Based on Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29 and Mark 11: 1-11)