Jesus, Lover of Humankind
An Eparchial Icon for the Jubilee
The Maronite Church has always had an endearing expression for Jesus Christ – namely, Lover of Humanity- taken from the inspiration of St. Ephrem, Harp of the Spirit. To commemorate this historic three year period of spiritual preparation for the new Millennium and the new springtime of Christianity in the Jubilee Year 2000, Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi has commissioned a new icon based on this ancient title of Jesus Christ.
This beautiful rendering, which reveals the unconditional love of God for His creation, was unveiled at the 35th National Apostolate of Maronites (NAM) Convention, which was held July 15th – 19th in Pittsburgh, PA, with a new special liturgy composed and published for this momentous occasion to honor Jesus, the Lover of Humanity. This Liturgy was prepared with the approval of Bishop Stephen Hector Doueihi by the Office of the Jubilee 2000.
This icon (4 feet x 2 feet) depicts Jesus, the Compassionate One with open arms embracing the Father’s creation. His standing in a dynamic position signifies His ongoing and sacramental presence to the Church by the Holy Spirit.
In keeping with the Syriac art tradition of the monk Rubbula from 586 A.D., the arches and dome represent the life of glory in the heavenly kingdom, the immortality and the incorruptibility of eternal life.
The Rubbula cross, (a cross within a circle) symbolizes 1) that all life comes from and returns to God; and 2) that our earthly existence is divinized by Jesus, the Savior of the world.
The icon’s panels on each side of the Lord represent two miracles He performed. The left panel represents Christ healing the paralytic man and restoring him to wholeness and health of body and spirit. The right panel depicts Christ with the apostles performing the miracle of the loaves and fishes and feeding His followers, a theme which has overtones of Christ’s feeding the Church in His Eucharist.
Prayer to Jesus, Lover of Humanity
Jesus, Lover of humankind, whose divinity is veiled by your humanity, we approach you with awe and wonder.
You are the High Priest who empathizes with our weakness;
the Divine Physician who heals our wounds;
the Good Shepherd who looks for the lost sheep and rejoices in finding the one.
O Compassionate One who wept with Martha and Mary, You are the Merciful One who forgives and forgets;
the Suffering Servant who tends to the needs of your people and all creation.
O Door of Salvation, by your wounded side you restored Adam, and invited the human family to enter Paradise.
From You flowed streams of living water – manifested as the mysteries.
You love us so much that you gifted us your words, your food and your Mother at the foot of the Cross.
Medicine of life you taught us you are humble of heart, and that your burden is light.
Supreme Good Samaritan, you call us saying: “All who are weary and find life burdensome, come and I will refresh you.”
In the famine of this world You becane the plentiful bread which satisfies our hunger and the cluster of grapes which quenches our thirst.
You made us children of the Father, and sisters and brothers in you.
You transformed the shane of the cross to the tree of life.
You gifted us with the power and presence of your Spirit who remains with us through the centuries.
Your Church offers you glory during this millennium preparation and for ever. Amen.
To generate a spirit of solidarity among the churches, missions, monasteries and convents of the Eparchy and to deepen our awareness of the jubilee preparation program, the Icon of the Lover of Humanity made a one year pilgrimage, from region to region, beginning with the Designated Holy Year Door Churches and then to all the churches and monasteries of the eparchy following the NAM Convention. The Icon is now enthroned at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY until year 2000 NAM’2000 Convention in Washington D.C.