My brothers and sisters,
On this celebration of Palm Sunday, we hear in the readings that Jesus enters Jerusalem to cheers of “Hosana!” Coming from the Hebrew phrase “hoshiya na” from Psalm 118:25 meaning “Save, please”, it originally was a cry to God for help from His people who were in exile. Throughout time this phrase evolved to mean “Salvation has come!” and is a shout of hope and exultation. In our Lenten journey we have experienced the penitential humility of Ash Wednesday, acknowledging to God and to ourselves our sinfulness, and spending time in inward reflection to examine our hearts. As we fast and pray, we are asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness, we are calling out to Him to “Save us, please”; simultaneously, we anticipate the coming of the summit, the most holy part, of our Liturgical Year, the Easter Triduum. From Holy Thursday when we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, through Good Friday when we remember our Lord’s Passion, into Easter Sunday when we celebrate joyously the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord and we can proclaim “Salvation has come!”
In this time of the coronavirus pandemic when our usual routines and daily lives have been severely disrupted, we cry out to God “Save us, please!” however, we must not give in to our natural inclinations toward fear and doubt; we must stay strong in our faith and increase our prayer. Despite the desire to perceive the Stay at Home restrictions as isolating and limiting, let us, instead, view this time as an opportunity to grow closer to one another, closer to God, closer to our own hearts. Perhaps in this new routine of “nowhere to go and nothing to do” we can see the benefits and the joy of having time for our families, our friends, ourselves and our Lord. I have witnessed parents, who are usually working or busy, spending more time with their children, going for bike rides, doing puzzles, going for walks and talking. I have seen kids of all ages finding innovative ways to connect, spending time outside and smiling, instead of rushing from activity to activity. We are able to sleep sufficiently, eat more healthy meals, and experience each other on a different level. While these are not the experiences of all, and I acknowledge that this unusual time also may create stress and challenges, let us turn to God for comfort, let us turn to each other for support and let us find peace in the reading from the Prophet Isaiah knowing that God’s help gives the servant, and us, the confidence and ability to continue to be His faithful people even in the midst of suffering. Jesus had to suffer and die on the Cross in order that He could rise from the dead, conquer Death itself and be the Salvation of the World.
– Father Pagano