Hosanna in the Highest
by Casey Flack
Duhawks, the Lord is risen, alleluia! As we enter into this Easter season I think it is helpful to take the time to reflect on parts of the Mass we often don’t give any thought to, and having celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday I think it is all the more important to talk about the phrase we sing at every mass, “Hosanna in the Highest!”
If you are like me, then you have said these words hundreds of times without much thought, but what does hosanna mean? Biblically we hear the people of Jerusalem shout it out in honor of Jesus’ arrival, so is it some kind of greeting? Not exactly. This is an affirmation of who Jesus is. Hosanna is an anglicized Jewish word meaning, “To save, or rescue.” The Jewish people lined the streets to shout out, “Rescue us, Lord!”
Its placement in the Mass is not arbitrary, but instead asks us to think about the reality we are entering. When we say this in the mass we are welcoming Christ in the Eucharist. We acclaim the King of the Universe is coming to be with us in simple bread and wine. What’s more is we are professing our trust in His promise that He has the power to rescue us from a life that seems incomplete without Him.
In a fundamental and radical way, this phrase calls us to recognize our need for a savior. Being an Easter people is coupled with the recognition that Christ is the one who purchased our victory. This phrase inspires humility of heart as we, at the same moment, welcome the coming of our Redeemer as our king, while also acknowledging we must cede control of our life to Him. In many ways when we proclaim this at mass we are also proclaiming St. Faustina’s famous phrase, “Jesus, I trust in you!”
The complicated nature of having a king means we place our trust in his hands in order that we, and all others, might be cared for. As we cry hosanna in this Easter season we pray that the whole world recognize the coming of the One and True King of our life, Jesus. Throughout Lent we had been praying, fasting, and giving alms all to prepare ourselves for the arrival of Jesus in an astonishing new way through His resurrection. Trusting in the King’s love for us, let us witness with a joyful and earnest hosanna as we share in the work of bringing the Good News to the world, “Jesus Christ lives, alleluia!”