Masses of people are moving along towards the temple – and Jesus, sitting on a donkey, is right in the middle of them. He is riding on the foal of a donkey, and according to the prophet Zechariah this is how the redeemer king would come. The cutting and spreading of branches made a connection between the entry of Jesus and that of Simon Maccabaeus, who led a successful revolt to free Jerusalem and make the temple a holy place again. That gives Palm Sunday its name. It also points to freedom and redemption after the hard and painful time of Passiontide is finished.
When the people welcome Jesus they use the word “Hosanna”. This was not only a blessing, but also a cry for help. You may wonder how all this can be connected with our life today. To explain and illustrate this question I would like to come back to the initial idea of a carnival.
In most areas in Germany, where I come from, during the last days before Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday there are carnival processions and celebrations daily. Everyone and everything is taken out of the normal order of things and put to the purpose of the party. Huge floats with radical themes and headlines ridicule and criticise things that are oppressive and painful in life and in politics. Of course music, fun, food and drink, like at Notting Hill, play their part too. The combination of all these very different elements turns Carnival in Germany into a time of liberation. People can vent their frustrations, and dance, sing and shout away their tensions. After that they can again deal appropriately with feelings and situations which may otherwise devastate them.