top of page


Evang./Prof. Michael P. Howard, MACS

Jesus' Song on Palm Sunday! 

"Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:6-11). 

Upon careful examination of the epigraph from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians, we can discover some profound aspects of our spirituality during this Holy Week. While the text centers on Jesus Christ, this Sunday Palm, a thorough analysis of the four stages of transformation outlined in the text, can guide us to emulate our Savior.

We must separate ourselves from the things hindering our spiritual growth to draw near to God. This may require us to step out of our comfort zones and into the unknown, just as the prophets did in the Old Testament. For instance, Abraham had to leave his homeland to experience God's promise for his family, and the children of Israel had to leave Egypt to enter a land filled with milk and honey. Similarly, in the text above, Jesus separated himself by emptying himself of His glory and taking the form of a slave. He humbled himself by coming in human likeness. 

In the second stage, we enter a state of liminal space. Jane R. Pretat describes this space as being like a dark vestibule between the past and the future, where the doors to the past have closed behind us, and the doors to the future remain unopened." In this liminal space, we separate ourselves from the past and move spiritually toward a new space. It's like crossing the threshold of a door. St. Paul said, "The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Cor. 5:17). For Jesus, the liminal space was one of humility. He closed the door to His divinity to accept - a humble life - trusting that a new door would open. 

The third stage is the rite. Usually, when we think of a rite, we think of learning and preparation. For instance, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) involves weeks of preparation for individuals who want to become Catholic. They undergo one or two years of learning and preparation. In the text above, Jesus learned to be "obedient to death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:8). When the time came on the mountain, he prayed to God, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). And yet, he remained obedient to God's will. 

After completing the earlier stages, we come to the final stage, which is transformation. In the passage above, we see this transformation in action. The statement, "Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name..."(Phil. 2:9), tells us that God exalted Jesus and gave him majesty. Jesus received the glory he prayed for. He said, "Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him" (Jn. 17:1-2). Through this new role and the different stages Jesus walked, we all can confess that Jesus is Lord. We can sing, "Savior, hear my humble cry, do not pass me by."

Now it's your turn. Think about a moment in your life that was a God moment for you. During this Holy Week, or even right now, write down these four transformative stages in your life: separation, liminal space, rite, and transformation. Identify these four stages of transformation in your life as you fill in the blanks: 

  1. Identify a moment in your life when God moved you, "the separation"moving from one space to another space. Fill in the blank:__________________________________________

  2. Name the door that closed, like a relationship or job, etc. God places you between the old and the new in the liminal space. Think of it this way: Good Friday is the separation, and Holy Saturday is the holding place, the liminal space. Fill in the blank:__________________________________________

  3. Reflect on your liminal space. This is the "rite stage" we all must go through as we approach the new door in our lives. The liminal space is where we encounter God to learn about ourselves through the Holy Spirit. Fill in the blank:__________________________________________

  4. Accept your newness in God. "Because of this, God greatly exalted him," this is you now. Because you have been obedient, God will elevate you to a new status; you are now a new creature in Christ Jesus. This is your transformative moment; God has found favor in you. Fill in the blank:__________________________________________

Happy Palm Sunday, and have a prayerful Holy Week.

Author: Evang./Prof. Michael Howard, MACS

Facilitator, University of Dayton, VLCFF,

University of Notre Dame, McGrath Institute, STEP Online,

Lead Faculty and Course Designer "The Presence of Black Catholics in the Church Today and Tomorrow" Loyola Marymount University,

Founder of Eat the Scroll Ministry 

Recent Posts

See All

1 commentaire

What a beautiful contemplative exercise to prepare me for the culmination of the Lenten Season with the beginning of Holy Week.

This exercise had me thinking of how God has slowly stripped away my old self that was filled with doubt and anxiety over my leadership role in my church community. Looking forward, I didn't know what was instore for me.

As I continued to pray, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, saying don't take pleasure and refuge in selfish ambitions and earthly desires. Give glory, honor and praise to Your Heavenly Father for all of the work you do in the service of others, wherever I send you. Great is your reward in heaven.

bottom of page