Journey to the Cross – Maundy Thursday – 1 April
The Lamb That Was Slain, Has Delivered Us from Death
and has Given Us Life
Today we leave dear Thomas à Kempis and read instead a reflection by Saint Melito, Bishop of Sardis (Died c 180) Father of the Church, whose Feast day it is today.
“There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover – that mystery is Christ and to Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
For the sake of suffering humanity He came down from heaven to earth, clothed Himself in that humanity in the Virgin’s womb and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, He took the pain of fallen man upon Himself; He triumphed over the diseases of soul and body, that were its cause, and by His Spirit, which was incapable of dying, He dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.
He was led forth like a lamb; He was slaughtered like a sheep. He ransomed us from our servitude to the world, as He had ransomed Israel from the hand of Egypt; He freed us from our slavery to the devil, as He had freed Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He sealed our souls with His own Spirit and the members of our body, with His own Blood.
He is the One, Who covered death with shame and cast the devil into mourning, as Moses cast Pharaoh into mourning. He is the One, Who smote sin and robbed iniquity of offspring, as Moses robbed the Egyptians of their offspring. He is the One, Who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be His own forever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.
It is He who endured every kind of suffering, in all those who foreshadowed Him. In Abel, He was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonoured in the prophets.
It is He who was made man of the Virgin, He who was hung on the tree; it is He who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute Lamb, the slain Lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of His was broken; in the earth His body knew no decay. He is the One, Who rose from the dead and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.”
From an Easter homily by St Melito of Sardis