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FIRST READING
From the letter to the Hebrews 4:14-5:10

Jesus Christ, the great high priest

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our profession of faith. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor and to find help in time of need.

Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with erring sinners, for he himself is beset by weakness and so must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. One does not take this honor on his own initiative, but only when called by God as Aaron was.

Even Christ did not glorify himself with the office of high priest; he received it from the One who said to him,

“You are my Son;
today I have begotten you”;

just as he says in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to God, who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, designated by God as high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

 

RESPONSORY
Hebrews 5:8, 9, 7

Though he was the Son of God,
Christ learned obedience through what he suffered;
– and now, for all who obey him,
he has become the source of eternal life.

In the days of his earthly life he prayed, crying aloud,
and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard.
– And now, for all who obey him,
he has become the source of eternal life.

 

SECOND READING
From an Easter homily by Saint Melito of Sardis, bishop
(Nn. 65071: SC 123, 95-101)

The lamb that was slain has delivered us from death and given us life

There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover: that mystery is Christ, and to him be glory for ever 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 land 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. 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 for ever. 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, dishonored 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, the 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.

 

RESPONSORY
Romans 3:23-24; John 1:29

Everyone has sinned
and is deprived of God’s glory.
We are justified through the free gift of his grace
and through the redemption of Christ Jesus.
– God made Christ’s sacrificial death
the means of expiating the sins of all believers.

This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
– God made Christ’s sacrificial death
the means of expiating the sins of all believers.

 

CONCLUDING PRAYER

Let us pray.

God of infinite compassion,
to love you is to be made holy;
fill our hearts with your love.
By the death of your Son
you have given us hope, born of faith;
by his rising again
fulfill this hope
in the perfect love of heaven,
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
– Amen.