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From the Peri Pascha of Melito of Sardis: a repost

April 12, 2009

Reading Fr. Bill Klock’s sermon below made me think of Melito of Sardis and his Peri Pascha: a perfect complement to Fr. Bill’s sermon from one of the Fathers.  While I have posted an excerpt from this before, the Peri Pascha of Melito of Sardis is well worth reading again for Easter. It always takes my breath away both for its beauty and for its being unsurpassed as a homily for this joyous day, though it may be the earliest we still have:

66. When this one came from heaven to earth for the sake of the one who suffers, and had clothed himself with that very one through the womb of a virgin, and having come forth as man, he accepted the sufferings of the sufferer through his body which was capable of suffering. And he destroyed those human sufferings by his spirit which was incapable of dying. He killed death which had put man to death.67. For this one, who was led away as a lamb, and who was sacrificed as a sheep, by himself delivered us from servitude to the world as from the land of Egypt, and released us from bondage to the devil as from the hand of Pharaoh, and sealed our souls by his own spirit and the members of our bodies by his own blood.

68. This is the one who covered death with shame and who plunged the devil into mourning as Moses did Pharaoh. This is the one who smote lawlessness and deprived injustice of its offspring, as Moses deprived Egypt. This is the one who delivered us from slavery into freedom, from darkness into light, from death into life, from tyranny into an eternal kingdom, and who made us a new priesthood, and a special people forever.

69. This one is the passover of our salvation. This is the one who patiently endured many things in many people: This is the one who was murdered in Abel, and bound as a sacrifice in Isaac, and exiled in Jacob, and sold in Joseph, and exposed in Moses, and sacrificed in the lamb, and hunted down in David, and dishonored in the prophets.

70. This is the one who became human in a virgin, who was hanged on the tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from among the dead, and who raised mankind up out of the grave below to the heights of heaven.

71. This is the lamb that was slain. This is the lamb that was silent. This is the one who was born of Mary, that beautiful ewe-lamb. This is the one who was taken from the flock, and was dragged to sacrifice, and was killed in the evening, and was buried at night; the one who was not broken while on the tree, who did not see dissolution while in the earth, who rose up from the dead, and who raised up mankind from the grave below.

I wish all of you a joyous Resurrection Day–may He live in your hearts as surely as He lives today at the right hand of the Father.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2009 2:11 am

    Will,

    I’m glad you saw the connection. I was reading Melito of Sardis this past week as I prepared this particular sermon. I thought about including a few quotes, but I’ve found my current parishioners don’t appreciate the historical references.

  2. April 12, 2009 8:57 am

    Fr. Bill,

    Thanks for sharing that! I definitely thought of Melito when I read that sermon–the same joyous expression of hope in the Resurrected Christ.

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