Beloved in Christ,
The cross and the empty tomb stand at the center of our faith. While we hold as dear the teaching of Jesus and are awed by the power of his miracles, these things only have their divine power in light of the cross and the resurrection. We are defined by the proclamation, “The Lord is risen.”
As the sun rises around the planet on Easter morn, we remember in gospel, song, and Eucharist that we are people of the resurrected Christ. This story is in sharp contrast to the dominant narrative of the day. The principalities and powers have not changed their focus throughout history. Their message continues to be: “Might makes right; winning is what matters…the one with the most wealth—the most toys—wins!”
Jesus’ message is simply this: God’s love wins. And so: love makes right. It is more blessed to give than receive. And most paradoxically, it is in dying that we live. The cross of the powers of the age is the last gasp, and it does not work. In the end, evil does not cohere. The empty tomb, Mary seeing the risen Christ, the bread broken and Christ revealed on the road to Emmaus—all testify to a different story and a different reality.
This is my thirteenth and last Holy Week as your bishop. While I will have more to say when my episcopal ministry ends on July 1, I want to especially offer my love and thankfulness to you, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, at this time. You are a people defined by the cross of Christ. I have seen and been nurtured by your witness, your giving, and your faith. You are an Easter people in a world that too often looks like Good Friday. You know the truth that Paul offered to the Roman community:
“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
This is our Easter promise. This is why we are a people of joy. Together, we are the Jesus people in the world. Blessings and peace to you as we live into our true selves with Jesus in this fellowship of love and new life.
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes
Fourth Bishop of San Diego
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