Bishop Eric Menees
Alleluia. Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
What a joyous proclamation of our faith! So much is captured in this opening acclamation of the Easter Season. Jesus broke the bonds of sin and death, and opened the gates of heaven to all who believe in his name. But this is not only a future hope: his sacrifice has made possible true, lasting, and profound reconciliation between man and God, here and now.
This Sunday we are reminded that the Church is God's instrument for that reconciliation:
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery hast established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In this week's Gospel, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room on that first Easter Day. He breathes on the disciples and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:22b-23)
What an awesome responsibility, and what an awesome joy, Christ has given to his Church. As a priest of the Church, it has been my greatest honor to pronounce absolution upon men and women who come to the Lord with contrite hearts. That forgiveness is available to us because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.
At St. James’ Easter Vigil this year, a man named Curtice was baptized and confirmed. Curtice embodies this reconciliation. He gave his testimony about how he'd lost everything, fell into the depths of drink and drugs, and was homeless for years until Dcn. Anna & Dcn. Melinda shared the good news of Christ's reconciling love with him. Curtice received Christ into his life and accepted Jesus’ forgiveness. With that grace, Curtice's life was transformed: he has been clean and sober for 265 days, is training to become a cook, and is serving at St. James’ Cathedral. Curtice has experienced the Paschal mystery, and for that I give thanks.
God Bless you All!
Note: These articles are written by Bishop Menees for the Diocese of San Joaquin. I have posted them on Soundings with his permission for a wider audience. This is also the case for his "Why I am an Anglican" series. Dale+