Good Friday

April 15, 2022

April 15, 2022

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April 15, 2022

Good Friday

Valerie D.

Valerie D.

Lewis-Mosley, OPA

Lewis-Mosley, OPA

One of my most cherished religious artifacts is this Cross that I sit before today. It was created for one of the parishes that I served in as a catechist many years ago. It was also the parish where I attended Mass while I was in elementary school. Sacred Heart Church of Jersey City was the Dominican Priory for the Order of Preachers.  Some years ago, when the Church closed, I was gifted this Cross for my children’s ministry at Christ the King Church my home parish. Christ the King is a historical Black Catholic Parish incorporated in 1930 (ninety-two years ago) in the Archdiocese of Newark. It was through the initiative of Black Catholic Lay Women and their families for the Apostolate to the African American community. My great grandparents, Carrie and Daniel Livingstone were among those original parishioners. The mission statement then and now was to seek the righteousness of the Lord that all might live in peace. A commitment to social justice was the mission of the parish then and now to confront racism and injustice. You see the righteousness of the Lord is justice.

The readings for this Good Friday are engraved on this Crucifix from the Gospel of John 19:37. They shall look upon him whom they have pierced. Yet it is not just the words but also the imagery of the Corpus, the broken and bruised body of our Savior Jesus Christ on the Cross that is a central theme for me, not just for today but throughout my life mission. You see this imagery is foundational and representative of the wisdom and life lessons taught to me by my ancestors of the African Diaspora here in the Americas. Anytime that I would complain or voice disapproval about the injustice shown to me because of my Black skin, my elders would quote the Scripture of Isaiah …there was no stately bearing to make us look at him, no appearance that would attract us to him, he was spurned and avoided by people…one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and held in no esteem… After quoting this Scripture my grandmothers, Fleta Lewis and Rachael Livingstone would say “Be thankful that you have not had to suffer death on a cross or a lynching tree.”

My grandparents and ancestors were all born and raised in the South, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. They knew the indignity of being spurned and hated because of the sin of racism. They experienced being unjustly accused; condemned to endure suffering and degradation. They were not accorded any opportunity to publicly voice a complaint or disapproval to the horrendous oppression. So many parallels to the experiences of the suffering servant spoken of in Isaiah. “Though he was harshly treated he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny?” Isaiah 53:7-8.

Whenever I would ask my grandparents and great-grandparents about their experiences in the Jim Crow south of segregation and the terror of the Ku Klux Klan, their response was “A burning cross has no power over the Cross of Calvary.” It was their abiding faith and trust in the Blood poured out that day on Calvary that allowed my ancestors and elders the confidence to believe and trust that their help cometh from the Lord. “So, they confidently approached the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” Hebrews 4:16

This reliance on the Word of God, rested in their awareness that Jesus knew all about their troubles. They knew that they had a Jesus who sympathized with their suffering because he had been tested in every way of suffering. My ancestors saw in their own suffering- as being linked with the sufferings of Christ on the Cross. They knew they would receive the redemptive healing by His Stripes and that their suffering would not be in vain.

Their guidance and wisdom of instruction for me journeying through this life of 65 years with macro and micro aggressions of racism and injustices was to “Take courage and be stouthearted and hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:25. This Crucifix that I sit in front of today is a constant reminder, at what cost was my salvation and the salvation of the world gained.

Standing in the gap with Jesus to the very end were the women. Women who stood in solidarity – to witness the events so that they could proclaim to the world that a just man was persecuted and put to death for the life of the world.

Can you imagine the hammer – hammering?  Can you imagine the nails piercing through his flesh and bones? Can you imagine the pain exploding in his mind as the crown of thorns pierced through to his skull?  That day on Calvary!

Just like the last words “I Thirst”!  I thirst for the justice; I thirst for the healing of our world from all inequity that has severed the body of Christ – The Church. Yet I believe in the Promise of the Cross, and I cry out!

In you LORD, I take refuge; In your justice rescue me. Psalm 31:2

I walk in the Promise that by His Stripes we are healed. Let the Redeemed of the Lord, Say So!

First Reading

Is 52:13—53:12

PSALM

Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

Second Reading

Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9

GOSPEL

Jn 18:1—19:42
Read texts at usccb.org

Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley, OPA

Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley, OPA

Dr. Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley is an alumna of Boston College School of Nursing (BSN 1979), Seton Hall University School of Law (MSJ - Health Law 2006), Seton Hall University School of Theology – Immaculate Conception Seminary (MAPM -Christian Spirituality/Spiritual Direction 2011) and Drew Theological School (Doctor of Ministry - Practicing Healing Mind Body Spirit 2015). Valerie has graduate studies in Nursing Leadership from New York University. She is also a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana-Institute for Black Catholic Studies (2002) with a certification as a Master Catechist in the Catholic Church. She also has doctrinal certification from the Archdiocese of Newark where she has served in ministry for over thirty years.

She is the retired Director of Religious Education at the Church of Christ the King - Jersey City, New Jersey, a historical Black Catholic Parish an Apostolate for Evangelization in the African American community. She serves in various capacities across the nation as a mentor to youth and adults; evangelist, retreat leader and revivalist and public speaker, life coach and Spiritual Director. Catechesis to children and youth and women’s spirituality and empowerment are a major component of her ministry as a pastoral associate. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Theology at Caldwell University, Caldwell, New Jersey, and Xavier University of Louisiana Institute for Black Catholic Studies. Valerie is a member of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium. She belongs to various International Honor Societies and is a Silver Life member of the NAACP.

Valerie is retired from clinical practice at the New York Hospital-Weill Cornell University Medical Center. Her specialty area was in High Risk/Tertiary Care Obstetrics where she served as the Senior Staff Clinical Nurse, Unit Preceptor, and Quality Assurance Committee Representative. She was also an interim administrative Nurse Recruiter.

She is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion for the sick and infirm and Lector. She has served as a minister on the Pre-Cana team preparing couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony. She serves the Church as a Lay Associate Order of Preachers (OPA) of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey. It is her mission” To Praise, To Bless, To Preach” the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her life models the spirituality of the Dominican and Jesuit charism. Black Catholic spirituality and Catholic Social Justice Teaching are premiere in her use of culture and faith to authentically evangelize.

Valerie has contributed several articles in various Liturgical Magazines and Scripture reflections in Ministry Publications. She is a consultant and contributing writer for The Hallelujah People: Eat the Scroll Ministry. She was recently selected by The Aquinas Institute of Theology- as an Aquinas Delaplane Preaching Scholars 2022 Writing Cohort Preaching About Racism: Challenge and Journey. The project is funded by the Lilly Foundation and will be published by Orbis Books.

She serves the Archdiocese of Newark on the Advisory Board for the African, African-American and Caribbean Apostolate. As well she has presented lectures and talks for the Deanery on racism and the Pastoral Letter Open Wide Our Hearts.

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