Actor Jonathan Roumie Urges Catholic University Grads to ‘Commit to Serving God’

‘The Chosen’ star spoke at The Catholic University of America’s 2024 commencement ceremony.
Actor Jonathan Roumie Urges Catholic University Grads to ‘Commit to Serving God’
Jonathan Roumie attends the global premier of season four of "The Chosen" at The Empire Cinema in Leicester Square in London, England, on Jan. 22, 2024. (Shane Anthony Sinclair/Getty Images)
Audrey Enjoli

Actor Jonathan Roumie, best known for portraying Jesus of Nazareth in the Christian television series “The Chosen,” had the honor of headlining The Catholic University of America’s 135th annual commencement ceremony this past weekend.

During the graduation ceremony on May 11, the 49-year-old stood before rows upon rows of young graduates seated on the lawn of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, located adjacent to the university’s campus, and urged them to draw closer to God.

“I'd like to share three simple lessons I’ve learned playing Jesus,” recited Mr. Roumie, who was also awarded an honorary degree by the private institution “for his dedication to evangelizing and communicating the faith to millions of people globally, and steadfastly living his faith with kindness and joy,” per the school’s website.

“The first and most radical thing I’ve learned in my time playing Jesus is this: You don’t need to play Jesus for the world in order to be Jesus to the world,” he said.

“You must endeavor to preach the gospel by the life you live, by your actions and the choices you make, by the political positions you take and advocacy for the causes you champion, and yes, especially as Catholic Christians, that means defending life at all stages,” the actor continued.

Touching upon his belief that the “wisdom of Jesus [is] so desperately needed” in today’s turbulent society, Mr. Roumie called upon the Catholic University graduates to spread the gospel nonetheless.

“I know what you’re thinking: ‘But this is insane, things are insane. People are out of control, the world is on fire.’ Yes, it may appear that way, but who do you think is in charge?” he queried. “Don’t let the enemy tempt you to pick up a can of gasoline and add to the flames of the chaos and the fear. Be ready with a hose filled with words of comfort and consolation, ready to put out those flames.”

Pray More

Continuing his speech, Mr. Roumie, who narrates Bible passages on the Catholic prayer app Hallow, said the importance of praying often was the second lesson he learned while playing Jesus on television.

“When life seems cray, get on your knees and pray,” he quipped. “The era we’re living in demands a revolution of deep prayer, one of silence and solitude amidst the dim of the world in order to cultivate a sense of peace and harmony within.”

Above all, Mr. Roumie encouraged the graduates “to serve and emulate” God. “When you commit to serving God first and not yourselves first—but God first—that’s when your true success will begin,” he said.

“When you put into action these three things, the first two I already mentioned—being Jesus to others in the world, amping up your prayer life—and the third and most radical concept: surrender,” he continued. “You’re not in charge, God is.”

Surrendering to God

Mr. Roumie reflected on a time in his life when he struggled to make ends meet as an actor, admitting that he only prayed to God during times of crisis. However, during this period of hardship, the “Jesus Revolution” star said he underwent a “life-altering experience” in which he decided to surrender his life and career to God.

“On that day, God remade me a completely new creature in Christ,” he explained, describing in great detail the series of events leading up to that moment.

“I found myself in a proverbial hole I couldn’t get out of. ‘The Chosen’ didn’t exist for me. I had 20 bucks in my pocket, negative $80 in my checking account ... drowning in thousands of dollars of debt, enough food to last one day, zero opportunities,” he shared.

“So I did what I’m telling you to do, I dropped to my knees, and I poured myself out to the Lord and surrendered everything to him ... and for the first time, I actually meant it. And the weight lifted off me immediately,” Mr. Roumie recalled.

The actor said he miraculously received four checks in the mail later that day totaling $1,100, which may seem like a modest amount to some, but, for him, it “may as well have been a million dollars.” Mr. Roumie went on to book his role on the highly acclaimed television series “The Chosen” soon after.

“Anybody else that is struggling or in crisis or feeling desperate as if God doesn’t really know what they’re going through—He does, I’m telling you He does. He’s listening. You just have to completely trust Him and surrender unconditionally,” Mr. Roumie implored the graduates seated before him.

“The more you commit, the deeper He takes you. The more you love Him, the higher you go, the more you seek Him, the wilder your journey gets,” he continued.

“In your complete surrender to God, you will always succeed because Jesus was, is, and ever shall be enough.”

Audrey is a freelance entertainment reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California. She is a seasoned writer and editor whose work has appeared in Deseret News, Evie Magazine, and Yahoo Entertainment, among others. She holds a B.A. from the University of Central Florida where she double majored in broadcast journalism and political science.