Defeating Evil Through Love
A Word to the People of God in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego and the Pacifica Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Wednesday in Holy Week
March 23, 2016
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39
On Tuesday in Holy Week, we, the bishops and clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego and the Pacifica Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gathered to renew our ordination vows and to bless Holy Oils to be used in baptism and to anoint the sick and dying. We began this day of remembering and renewal under the shadow of yet another terrorist attack. Even though Belgium is a half a world away, the shock waves of infamous explosions reverberate to our community. We offer our prayers that God’s healing balm may be poured upon those affected.
In Holy Week, Christians recall the fateful journey of Jesus to Jerusalem and the cross. Terrorism is nothing new. The Roman cross, like the bombs of Brussels, was designed to create fear. The cross intended to terrorize not just the victim but the wider society. The random bomb seeks a similar impact.
The profound and cosmos-changing reality of this week is that the Roman cross is not the final word. Love, not greater force, prevails over the forces of evil—even terrorism. Indeed, the cross is transformed from a tool of execution into a symbol of God’s love. The death and resurrection of Jesus defeats the power of death by God’s abundant patience and sacrificial love for the world. Terrorism will never be defeated by more and better security or by force. Rather, terrorism will be overcome by patience and by love. This evil will be rendered powerless if we refuse to be changed by those who wish us to distrust and turn on our neighbor. Our greatest response in the effort to end terrorism is to take away the terrorist’s power to change us.
And so, we pray for the victims, the first responders, for those who strive for a safer world, and for courage to trust in the power of God’s love. On this day, we, as followers of Jesus, move down the road to Jerusalem and Calvary. We reject the principalities and powers of violence. We accept the cross. We trust in God’s love. We bid others to follow Jesus in this Way.
The Bishop and Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego and
The Bishop and Clergy of the Pacifica Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Gathered at St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego