Fr. Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: Hosanna


(Fr Michael Boakye Yeboah: Vice Rector of St Gregory Seminary, Kumasi-Ghana)


            Today we celebrate Palm Sunday in strange circumstances. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic we are not allowed to congregate and celebrate this solemn “festival.”

            Palm Sunday is one of the best ‘dramatical’ events in the ministry of Jesus. How I wished I was there in the crowd that day shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” The dramatical set-up of the day was splendid; a better script could not have been inscribed into historical books than this. As I wish to relive the dramatic event today, others were eyewitnesses that day.

            People had heard of the prophet from Nazareth, curiosity has brought some to the scene while others came to hail their king who comes to save them. The crowd that paid homage to Jesus at the gateway to the city was not the same crowd that later demanded his crucifixion. The crowd that met him at the city gates had one request – a Hosanna request. The word Hosanna is a transliteration of Aramaic words hosha ‘na’. Hosha ‘na’ is the equivalent of the Hebrew hoshi ‘ah na in Psalm 118:25-26, which reads, “save now (hoshi ‘ah na), we beseech thee, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech thee, give us success…” Literally and originally, hosanna is a request for help. The people crying out hosanna were begging him for salvation.

            The Aramaic term, with the Hebrew behind it, is well known to Christians as part of the shout of the crowd when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. The term hoshi ‘ah na is a cry for salvation from the people to the King who comes. Hosanna is originally a word of urgent supplication, meaning something like: Come to our aid! Normally the priest who served at the temple would repeat it in a monotone on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while processing seven times around the altar of sacrifice, as an urgent prayer for rain. By the time of Jesus, the word had also acquired Messianic overtones.

            The people made a plea to the King to intervene in their harsh conditions; for without his intervention they perish. It is in a similar spirit and urgent cry that I would like to join the billions of Christians who are crying for the intervention of our Lord and Savior, because corona virus has rendered human beings to nothingness. O Jesus, it is only in you that humans can be restored to their self-worth. Help seems not to come from anywhere if Jesus does not intervene. The people in Jesus’ time were living in harsh conditions that is why they cry out “Hosanna”. Please God come to our aid, for without you, we perish.


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