“This is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it” with a spiritual gladness pleasing to God. This is our greatest feast, one that is celebrated by all the world, a feast of renewal and salvation. Today God has fulfilled all types, symbols, and prophecies. Christ our Passover, the true Passover, “is sacrificed,” and in Christ all is made new: there is a new creation, a new faith, new laws, a new people of God, a new Israel in place of the old, a new Passover, a new and spiritual circumcision, a new and unbloody sacrifice, a new divine covenant.
We too must be renewed today; we must renew a right spirit within our hearts and so prepare to enter into the mysteries of this new and perfect feast and to exult in this day’s heavenly joy. We shall then depart as initiates of the mysteries of the new Passover, mysteries fulfilling those of the old dispensation and which will never be superseded. We shall see how great the difference is between the Jewish mysteries and ours and be able to compare the type with the reality. With these thoughts, let us begin our meditation upon Christ, our Passover, and upon his mission.
Of old, Moses, the lawgiver, was sent by God from a high mountain to save his people and to symbolize the law. The Lord, the lawgiver, was also sent, God by God, mountain from the highest mountain of heaven, to save our people and to be the law. Moses delivered his people from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but Christ has delivered us from the devil and evil spirits. Moses made peace between his two contending brethren, but Christ has made peace between his two peoples and united heaven and earth.
Israel kept the symbolic Passover by night: we celebrate the true Passover by the light of day. They kept it in the evening of the day: we keep it in the evening of the world. Then the doorposts and lintels were sprinkled with blood: now it is the hearts of the faithful that are sealed with the blood of Christ. Then the sacrifice was offered by night and the crossing of the Red Sea took place at night, but now we are saved by the Red Sea of baptism that glows with the fire of the Spirit. In baptism the Spirit of God truly descends and appears on the waters in which the head of the serpent, the prince of serpents and demons, is crushed. Moses gave Israel its baptism by night and a cloud overshadowed the people, but it is the power of the Most High that overshadows the people of Christ.
Moses had recourse to a rock of this creation, but we turn to the rock of faith. Then, the tablets of the law were broken in pieces as a sign that the law would be abrogated: now, the laws of God stand for ever. Then, the making of a molten calf brought retribution on the people: now, the sacrifice of the Lamb of God is the salvation of the people. Then, water poured from the rock when it was struck by a rod: now, from the pierced and lifegiving side of the rock which is Christ, both blood and water flow. The Jews of old were given quails from heaven: our gift from on high is the Dove, the Holy Spirit. They fed on perishable manna and died: the bread that we eat brings us everlasting life.
St Epiphanius of Salamis