Today is Palm Sunday (Hosanna) for all of our Tewahedo Orthodox faithful. It is a very special day in the Tewahedo Orthodox Church, which commemorates Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey. As He was greeted by many who spread their clothes and branches from the trees on the road and cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!’
For many years, we celebrated this special day annually inside our Churches. This year it’s different, because of the restrictions associated with COVID-19. Especially, for those of us who have never missed church on Palm Sunday, it will never be the same. We now find ourselves restricted from going inside our Church and we are forced to watch the Kidasie (Liturgy) on our television screens. We will not have an opportunity to partake of the Holy Communion or to smell the beautiful aroma of the incense. Our lips will not kiss the Holy Gospel, the Cross and the blessed hands of our priest. Sadly, many of us will not receive any Palm leaves. This day will truly be a day we will never forget! It will remind us of how blessed and privileged we have been throughout the years, to have the freedom to worship in God’s house. Those who have taken the Church for granted, are now wishing they never had.
I hope and pray, that we never forget the greatest lesson from COVID -19, is not that we’ve had to wash our hands a million times or that we’ve had to wear a face mask every time we stepped outside. But that it is a time we have been called to repent from our sinful ways. As we see thousands of people die and they continue to die in total isolation, with no loved ones around. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, brothers, sisters and children have died without their family ever having a chance to say their final farewells. Funeral homes and graveyards are limited to five or ten people to bury the dead. How can we not be reminded, that we must repent and turn to God and His ways? How can we possibly believe we are exempted from death at a time like this? Are we too good for death? Have we forgotten any day can be our last?
This certainly is not a time for people to pass judgement, spread lies, gossip and carry on with their usual sinful ways. It is a time for us to wake up and realize, death will not wait for anyone. If we have done others wrong, we have to apologize. If others have done us wrong, we must forgive them. That is what our Heavenly Father demands of us. We must learn to seek Christ first in all aspects of our life and stop living by the standard of this world. If we call ourselves Christians, we must live a spiritual life and only do and say things that are pleasing to God.
As we turn from our sinful ways, May God have mercy on us and May He open the doors to our churches, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother the Holy Virgin.
Wishing you, your family and loved ones a Blessed and Happy Palm Sunday!
Author Selam Seyoum