“A prayer to God in the time of Coronavirus and Distress”

“A prayer to God in the time of Coronavirus and Distress”

Oh God, our Healer and Comforter:

We pray that you’ll give immeasurable strength and wisdom and abundant protection to medical staff working tirelessly in nursing homes, hospitals, and other medical and mental facilities to alleviate our pain and suffering, and cure our diseases.

Would you please be mindful about the healing and longevity of the sick and those who are socially incarcerated in a hospital room and away from the physical touch and proximity and from the presence of their family and loved ones. Heal their diseases; touch and stabilize their wounded scars; restore their broken spirit; and comfort their troubled soul.

Oh Maker of the cosmos and people:

We pray for truck drivers, migrant and undocumented workers, farmers, factory workers, grocery managers and staff, and all others who make nutrition and other basic necessities possible and available for a nation in crisis and fear. We beseech you, oh gracious Lord of the universe, to give them physical strength, psychological stability, and mental rest so they can be successful in what they do. Keep them and their family from being contaminated or infected, as you would do the same for our medical professionals and staff.

Oh Lord of the cities:

Governors, state representatives, local authorities and officials are confused and lacked of human power and resources to accommodate the great needs of their people, their cities, their states, and the urgent needs of the coronavirus pandemic. Give them sufficient grace and wisdom to act in wisdom, to comfort those who are hurting and dying, and to contribute to just and equitable communities and cities. Help them not to use their strength and influence to maximize suffering and prolong the effects of the virus. Direct their thoughts; calm their spirit; and may their actions will bring healing and human flourishing in their cities. Grant them the attitude to behave and act like true public servants and community-caregivers.

Oh God of the Poor and the Oppressed:

The poor and the marginalized in our communities and citirs place their hope and future in you. Remember the poor in the developing and developed nations! You will not disappoint them in this time of despair nor will you turn your face away from their existential needs and urgent care in this period of anxiety. The poor are hungry for food, thirst for water, and long to receive and be satisfied with the basic things of life. They are the most vulnerable group to sickness, abuse, exploitation, even their rights to live and exist. Give them justice, security, and protection. Do not forget them when you visit other people; do not look upon them with disfavor, but with compassion, tenderness, and empathy; and do not remove your presence from their dwelling. You are the God who claims to be in solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, and the economically-disadvantaged individuals and populations. Make your face shine upon them and rescue them in this time of excruciating pain and depression!

Remember Oh Lord, some people will become poor and homeless in these dangerous and dark times. Make provision for them. Sustain them and their family. Shine upon them with grace and favor. Restore their lost employment and wages. Be their Hope, Shelter, and Comfort!

Oh God who gives us children and families:

We thank you for the gift of life and grace to have children and families. We also thank you for the gift not to have children but to care for other individuals’ children and families. We thank you for the gift of singleness; oh Lord you don’t look down upon those who belong to this category. Bless those who are singles and those who are waiting upon you to start a family.

In the time of coronavirus, we parents have become everyday teachers of our children-students and we just assumed the role of professional teachers and educators. (We were not ready for that.) Lord, you know our inadequacy in various fields of learning. Give us wisdom and the willingness to accommodate and adjust in this moment of teaching, learning, observing, and role modelling. Help us to seek assistance from those who are stronger and more equipped than us.

Grant us patience to teach our kids at home in this short period of school recess. Help us to manage our time, stress, anxiety, and worries. We parents need urgent divine wisdom, assistance, and presence, and help us to get along with other parents. Foster in us a spirit of teamwork and collaboration.

Oh Sovereign God and Ruler of the nations:

The leaders and the people of nations, both rich and poor, developed and developing countries, long for deliverance and healing from the coronavirus and its aftermath potential effects.We pray for national and global peace, and more humane and compassionate foreign relations and policies throughout this transitional crisis that is affecting all peoples and nations–especially the poor and darker nations of the world.

We call upon your name to give global leaders and authorities a heart for their people, to focus on the well-being of their nations, and to prioritize people’s lives and health above the material, physical, and economic advantages they could benefit from this predicament. Help them to look for the best interest of their allies, even the welfare of the nations they see as their enemies–in this time of coronavirus. Remove the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of love; transform the dependent attitude to mutual actions that are interrelational and global-focused; and dispel ideas of hate, revenge, and war and substitute them with a passion for peace, interexchange, teamwork, and global unity.

Oh the Lord of the Church:

Do not abandon your church, your people, and those you have redeemed with your mighty hand when they come to you for aid in this time of distress; when they seek your face in this time of mourning; and when they cry out loud for your providence and intervention in this moment of crisis! You will not inflict pain upon them nor would you stay angry at your people forever. You will never abandon your church and your people. Forgive them of their sins as you would wash away the sins of anyone who call upon you for forgiveness and repentance. You will never reject or say no to such individuals. You are love and act toward all of us in lovingkindness.

Oh Father of Light, we call upon you that you will arm your people with transforming power from above to comfort the brokenhearted, to dispell fear and anxiety among your people and others, and to bring peace in places of division and disharmony. Father, conscientize your people to be in solidarity with the weak, the marginalized, the widow, the orphan, the prisoner, and the needy. You will also bestow upon the church a spirit of hospitality and humility, an attitude of gratitude toward you, and a passion to bring your healing power and salvation to those who are hurting and living without the hope and light of Christ, the Savior of the world.

Give them grace so the followers of Christ could model a genuine and sustaining life of faith in this time of crisis and terror.

Give them godliness so the disciples of Christ could love like you, lead and shine like you, and serve sacrificially those in need and moments of distress.

Grant them a piety that is Christ-centered and a God-focused lifestyle that is full of compassion, kindness, charity, patience, and zeal to contribute to the common good and human flourishing–for the sake of your name and renown among the nations and peoples of the world.

In Christ’s name, our Lord and Redeemer, we pray and ask!

Amen!

–Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

“God and the Urgency of our Prayers in the time of Coronavirus”

“God and the Urgency of our Prayers in the time of Coronavirus”

Natural disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, typhoons, diseases, plagues, epidemics, panepidemics, etc. that go beyond human comprehension do not necessarily lead to divine causality as their source. The virus is nobody’s fault. As human beings, we are subject to pain, suffering, weakness, and vulnerability.

God is not responsible for acts of evil in the world. God is not a tyrant nor a dictator. He does not wish the death of anyone, even the death of the evil ones and those who hate him. Love is the ground that defines everything God does, the way he rules the world, and the way he intervenes in human affairs. It is the will of God for us his creation to live in harmony, justice, and peace in the world.

Nonetheless, there are cases in the Bible where God uses natural disasters as means to judge human wickedness and discipline people. While God has portrayed himself as the most loving and compassionate being in the cosmos, he is also the most holy being in the universe. The holy and righteous character of God does not allow God to look upon human wickedness or sin with favor. On the other hand, that does not explain anything that God is the cause of the pandemic. We do not know the mind of God and his ways are not our ways; thus, we cannot and should not attribute to God natural disasters and calamities unless we know for certain they originated in God.

On the other hand, human beings are volitional agents who act, interact, and govern within the boundaries of their agency, subjectivity, and freedom. However, through our actions, we can hurt others and inflict pain upon one another. Through our actions, we also bring disasters to the natural world and the environment, such as in the case of global warming, for example.

We know precisely when we hurt and oppress people. On the other hand, in the Christian understanding of human dynamics and governance, when we do something evil, we not only sin against our brothers and sisters, we also transgress God’s moral law. Why? It is simply that we are created in God’s image to represent him in the world and to embody his moral virtues and qualities in our relationships. To put it simply, all human sin leads to death and all wickedness is accountable to God because God has a claim upon our lives, both collectively and individually.

God is our Maker and Father. God’s grace is always sufficient to comfort us in our suffering. The Bible says that there’s nothing in the world, even death (in our present context, It is the coronavirus as a panepidemic) that can separate us (that is, followers of Christ) from the love God in Christ Jesus. Hence, death is never a defeat for those who believe in Jesus and whose hope in this present and future is also in him. God is good all the time. God loves us all the time even in our most weakest and vulnerable moment.

Finally, in the time of coronavirus, it is important for the people of God and even those who deny God’s existence and his goodness to seek his face in prayer. They should pray for mercy, grace, forgiveness, and repentance. God is not a distant deity nor is he far away from his creation. God’s love and mercy transcend our shortcomings, and our religious traditions and dogmas. God hears the prayers of his people and always intervenes when they pray. Why should we then pray?

1) First, God has ordained prayer as a means of communication with him.

2) The Bible says that to bring all our needs and anxieties to God in prayer.

3) God promises that he will hear our prayers if and we we pray with a contrite heart and repentant spirit.

4) God always uses the means of prayer to calm our fears, to stop and recover us from natural disasters, to refresh us, and to restore his creation. We are the beneficiaries of his daily mercies and kindness.

5) Because God works miracles and acts supernaturally through human prayers, he invites us to pray to him in moments of distress, agony, and suffering.

6) Through prayer, we can draw near God and God will draw near us.

7) Prayer unites us with Christ, and our union with Christ is a nurturing process that ensures our spiritual growth and leads us to a life of imitation and Christ-centeredness.

8) Finally, through prayer, we can get the divine perspective about the things of this world; in other words, God provides guidance and wisdom to us through prayer, especially in such a difficult time as this one.

If you believe in the power of prayer to change life events and circumstances and to move the hand of God to act urgently, graciously, and sovereingly, would you consider praying to God until the coronavirus goes away and life in this world goes back to normal.

*** We should also remember that God is a relational God and an emotional being. Hence, when we suffer, he suffers with us. When we hurt, he’s also touched and moved in compassion and care. He’s the King and Father who cares, comforts, guides, heals, protects, and restores.

God is not finished with the people of the United States and the people of other nations in the world. We are his image bearers in the world and He is our Maker. As his creation and people, we are the apple of his eye. God is our loving Father and Caretaker!

 

Peace and Blessings,

Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

“A Prayer to God in the time of Coronavirus and Distress”

https://soundcloud.com/…/a-prayer-to-god-in-the-time-of-cor…

“A Prayer to God in the time of Coronavirus and Distress”

In this audio, Rev. Dr. Joseph offers a prayer to God for those who have been affected/infected by the coronavirus and for those of us who are living in the time of the coronavirus and distress.

“The Role of the Church in the Time of Coronavirus”

“The Role of the Church in the Time of Coronavirus”

In this tragic time of this pandemic, what is your church doing to reach out to and serve the orphan, the poor, the homeless, the elderly, the incarcerated, and those who have been infected with the COVID-19?

A lot of children just became orphans and homeless as a result of losing their parents to the coronavirus.

A lot of unemployed mothers just lost their husbands–their only source of income in the family–and became single unemployed moms due to the COVID-19.

Many-stay-at-home moms, who were financially dependent on their working husbands to make it in life, just lost their hubbies, due to this pandemic.

Many grandsons and granddaughters just lost their grandparents, who provided them with a home and daily nutrition, to this pandemic.

Many elderly just lost their spouses, close companions, or life partners, and suddenly, they became lonely and are now having a difficult time to adapt and transition through this new life–as a result of this deadly disease.

Children of undocumented parents, who were their only source providers, just lost their undocumented mom or dad, or both, to the coronavirus nightmare.

Adopted adolescent sons and daughters just lost their adoptive parents to this disaster.

What is your church doing to
serve these individuals and reach out to this vulnerable population in your city?

What is God calling you to do to attend to the needs of these individuals and families in your community?

#THECHURCHANDCOVID19 

 

—Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

Let’s begin our Monday, the Holy Week, with a comforting word from Dr. Jesus Christ:

Let’s begin our Monday, the Holy Week, with a comforting word from Dr. Jesus Christ:

“Do Not Worry”

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

–Matthew 6:25-34

Stay safe and stay at home!

Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

“Oh, Holy Tuesday”: Remembering Christ the King!

“Oh, Holy Tuesday”: Remembering Christ the King!

Let us thus remember Jesus as King and contemplate on the significance of his title for our ongoing relationships and actions as his followers, as well as the implications of his cosmic governance in the world today!

” 28 After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ” 32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

–Luke 19:28-44

—Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

Holy Wednesday”: Behold the Lamb of God: Remembering the Kiss and the Sacrifice!

Holy Wednesday”: Behold the Lamb of God: Remembering the Kiss and the Sacrifice!

On this Holy Wednesday, we remember not only the kiss of betrayal from Judas Iscariot–one of the twelve disciples of Christ–which contributed to the eventual arrest and death of Jesus; we also remember Jesus’ attitude–active obedience, submission to the will of God, and generous forgiveness–toward his abusers, especially Judas’ ultimate decision to betray his master for 30 pieces of silver.

Psalm 41:9

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.”

Mark 14:18-20

“As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me–one who is eating with Me.” They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.”

Mark 14:43-45

“Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him.”

Luke 22:47-48

“While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

John 13:21-26

“When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” 26 Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.”

Mark 14:10-11

“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.”

Luke 22:3-6

“And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. They were glad and agreed to give him money.”

–Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

“Holy Thursday: Be a Servant to Others while Remembering Jesus’ kindness and servant leadership”

“Holy Thursday: Be a Servant to Others while Remembering Jesus’ kindness and servant leadership”

On this Holy Thursday, we are called to serve others and show kindness and compassion to the vulnerable, the needy, and the poor, especially those in our community who have been infected and affected by the devastating power of the coronavirus.

As we continue to remember Jesus and his sacrificial death during the Passion Week, Let us thus follow Christ’s example of servanthood. It was on a Thursday like this one and on his way to Calvary and glory, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

***Those who are serving and caring for us, our family, and our friends deliberately, intentionally, and sacrificially in this deadly time of coronavirus are agents of Christ in this broken world; they are demonstrating the spirit of servant leadership, the spirit of Christ, in a time of uncertainty, a moment of global crisis. They wash people’s feet everyday, moment by moment, and some of them wash our feet unreservedly while forgetting to wash their own until they breathe their last breath in this world toward non-existence, even death through unconditional service and selflessness.

It is the spirit of servant leadership and generous kindness embodied in the life of Christ Jesus that will transform the world; create another and better world; heal our individual and collective wounds; cure us from all of our diseases and terrors; inspire a new humanism in our country; foster revolutionary love and justice; and restore our human dignity in such a time as this one.

Hence, I invite you to mediate upon this passage below and follow the example of Jesus the Christ:

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13: 1-17

 

Peace and Blessings,

Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

“The ‘Good Friday’ is a gift for all people” :What did Jesus Really Say on the “Good Friday”?

“The ‘Good Friday’ is a gift for all people” :What did Jesus Really Say on the “Good Friday”?

Some two thousand years ago, it was a Friday like this one that Jesus was put on trial before a ruthless juror, consisted of both religious leaders and politicians, that found him guilty for a crime he did not commit. As reported in the Gospels, the common people, both Jews and Gentiles, actively participated in Jesus’ unfair trial. He appeared before Pontius Pilate, the powerful political figure and state agent, who determined his fate, not his future.

Further, historians tell us that the judgment and the final verdict leading to the death penalty, burial, and annihilation of Jesus happened on a Friday– what is commonly called the “Good Friday” or “Holy Friday” in the Christian sacred/liturgical calendar. Arguably, the death of Jesus was a state-sponsored violent death and ruthless execution. The death of Jesus is a demonstration of the problem of justice in society and the bankruptcy of the legal system in the world. By implications, it invites us to think responsibly and ethically, for example, about the problem of mass incarceration of black males in the United States. Like Jesus, many of the prisoners and felons currently serving a sentence (some a “life sentence”) are wrongly accused of a crime they did not commit.

Yet while Jesus was still hanging on a cross made up of old and rugged wood, somewhat analogous and parallel to the America’s terrorized lynching tree in which many thousands of falsely-accused blacks breathed their last breath in the American society, he spoke seven powerful and beautiful words that narrate an intricate rapport between God and humanity, human vulnerability and strength, despair and hope, grace and forgiveness, inclusion and acceptance, redemption and justice, love and hospitality, etc.
On this “Good Friday,” as we continue to remember Jesus, I invite you to reflect upon the meaning and implications of the seven last sayings of Christ:

1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46).

The first saying of Jesus establishes the paradoxical rapport between the good and holy God and the problem of divine justice upon the bearer of sin. In Christianity, it is believed that Jesus is the bearer of everybody’s punishment from God because everyone sins; sin is a transgression against a holy and righteous God, the Creator and Redeemer of all people. When someone sins, he or she becomes an instant violator of God’s moral law and ethical virtues, and everyone falls in this category.

Hence, the saying by Jesus, while being lynched on the wooden-cross, indicates the following threefold message: (1) sin creates alienation between God and human beings, but it is never too deep to stop the divine love and grace; (2) sin creates alienation and distance between individuals in society, but it does create the possibility for reconciliation and to do life together again; and (3) sin does not have the final word and does not determine one’s future and final destiny. Rather, it is one’s personal attitude and response to the death of Christ that determines the nature of one’s relationship to God the Creator. In other words, the death of Christ calls for a decision from every individual, and this decision is personal and existential, and it also involves Jesus the Christ and Jesus the Savior of all people.

2. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Forgiveness is always a human possibility and a wonderful gift of reconnection and readjustment, between God and individuals, individuals from the same clan or people from different communities.

Forgiveness is not only about human relationships and interplays; it may engage two nations or governments that were once in enmity with one another. Forgiveness fosters the possibility for global peace and mutual collaboration between the nations and leaders of the world.
Every individual has an opportunity to start life again once being forgiven and reconciled with one another. Every nation has the capacity to forge strong links of friendship and hospitality, and to perform intentional acts of kindness toward one another–once forgiveness is achieved.

Forgiveness is an active attitude and a human force that compel us to seek reconciliation and peace; it welcomes friendship and defers exclusion, and teaches us vulnerability, teamwork, and humility.

The triumph of humanity in this world does not rest upon a blossomed capitalist market nor does it entail forces of competition toward greatness and status; rather, the success of humanity in this age lies in our willingness to forgive and map out a new path together. Forgiveness changes our attitude from being a master to be a servant.

Consequently, in this saying from the lips of Jesus, Jesus extends the gift of forgiveness to his abusers, exploiters, oppressors, and even to those who have planned his death. That’s the example that marks the Christ-event on the cross, and this is how the cross speaks to humanity and to each individual. This is what it means to follow Jesus in proximity and to be a friend of God. In this way, ever person is called urgently to imitate Christ and to pursue the mind of Christ in all things.

3. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

The gift of paradise is not a place in another world or a metaphysical residence. It is a conferred status upon receiving divine grace and favor and having been interrupted radically by divine love and kindness. Paradise means divine presence and interpenetration, and christocentric unity and indwelling.

Paradise is an invitation to participate in Christ and to be one with him in this world and the one to come. In the third saying, Jesus the Christ begins with and thus invites one individual, who was a decisive and condemned thief by the Roman Empire and a stranger to Jesus, to be in paradise with him; that individual stands for every human being in the world and the beneficiary of every subsequent invitation offered by Jesus–inclusively to every boy and girl, man and woman, male and female, homosexual and lesbian, transgender and cisgender, and every individual fashioned in the image of God. This invitation id inclusive for it crosses class, ethnic, racial, political, ideological, and geo-political lines and borders. Yet it comes with a measure of substantial responsibility and radical transformation, what Jesus himself called “the new birth.” Everyone who is invited to Christ’s paradise must be “born again.”

4. “Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!” When Jesus recognized His mother standing near the cross with the Apostle John, He entrusted His mother’s well-being to John’s responsibility. (John 19:26-27).

In this fourth declaration by Christ, he directly validates the dignity and humanity of women, and concurrently, he establishes the intimate bond and relationship between a mother and a son. In the same vein, “The Christ” affirms that life is a gift that generates from women; yet its ultimate origin is divine and mysterious.

Life as a gift from both God and women, correspondingly, requires the urgency to be part of a community and the pressing existential need to live and walk together in connection with one another; indiscriminate human hospitality is connected with the good life and successful human existence. Thus, Jesus could entrust the welfare of his dear mother to John’s sacred task or responsibility.

5. “I am thirsty” (John 19:28).

The fifth statement of “The Christ” indicates his vulnerability as a person and as an individual who can relate to human (our) suffering, pain, and sorrows. The underlying message of this statement signals that the person of Christ is relatable and relational, and that he is no stranger to time and space, and to humanity. He is severely touched by human fragility and weakness, and radically subject to human nature and the spontaneity of life.

6. “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

The sixth claim of “The Christ” is the most powerful human speech ever uttered to God, the Maker of heavens and earth, and the Redeemer of human beings and the cosmos. “It is finished” gives a clear indication of a (divine) commission that was now executed and fulfilled by the messenger. At this point in the conversation, Jesus once again affirms his divine appointment as the final messenger of the immortal and gracious God.

This rhetoric of affirmation and attainment is not only associated with Jesus’ redemptive task; by implication or inference, this saying is intimately linked to the divine origin and identity of “The Christ.” This is the basis for human salvation and redemption, achieved through divine love in the Son of God, who died sacrificially for the world–as biblical writers unapologetically attest.

Finally, this claim by Jesus, like his sacrificial death, has become the most transformative cosmic event in human history that ensures restoration and friendship, reconciliation and peace with God. It also paves the way and potentially guarantees the possibility for human reconciliation and peace, with one another.

7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46).
Because every life has its origin in God, the spirit of every person and every animate thing likewise has its source in God our Maker. To commit one’s life to God is not a decision that should be postponed for the future, or in the next life to come, or even at the point of one’s death. Commitment here means an instantaneous decision and existential responsibility. Ultimately, it affirms that our life is not our own; it belongs to God, the great steward of (human) life and existence.

Peace and Blessings,

Dr. Celucien L. Joseph