These days of imposed isolation have gotten a lot of people thinking about their faith, and that has led to many interesting questions coming our way. I thought I would share some of those questions and the more or less impromptu reflections they prompted.
The first of these comes from "Z" via Twitter.
A question has been bothering me for a bit now and I was wondering if you had any answers. The Church changed the Sabbath to Sunday as a day of rest. But isn't this contrary to the laws God gave Moses on Mt Sinai in the old covenant? I recognize Jesus as the New Covenant but don’t see anywhere in the Bible where Jesus states to change the sabbath. Was this change man's doing?
|St John on Patmos (circa 1415!)|
The observance of Sunday
, the First Day of the week, as the "Lord's Day" is attested to in the letters of St Paul and the Acts of the Apostles (see 1 Co 16:2 and Acts 20:7). At the very beginning of the book of Revelation, John notes that he was praying in exile on Patmos "on the Lord's Day" when he had the great series of visions of the worship going on in Heaven (Rev 1:10). That was, clearly, the day the Christian communities were assembled for their worship. John was seeing that what was being done on earth “on the Lord's day” was what was being done in Heaven.
The book of Genesis connects the Sabbath
rest with Creation, saying that when God completed the “work” of creation, “he rested on the Sabbath seventh] day” and so “God blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (see Gen 2:2-3). The rules and regulations of the past had all been ordered toward preparing (and preserving!) the people for the coming of the Messiah. When he came, Jesus, the Messiah (Christ means “messiah, anointed”) started a new creation
by rising from the dead on the first day of the week. The Apostles were the ones who seem to have recognized that this "reset" even the venerable order of the Sabbath rest (which, remember, was "made for man" according to the words of Jesus himself in Mark 2:27).
This Christian “reset” even entered into the languages we speak today. For the ancient Romans, the first day of the week was dies Solis, the day of the Sun (yes, that's right: literally Sun-day). For Greek-speakers at the time it was the same thing: ἡμέρᾱ Ἡλίου or in our alphabet, hēmérā Hēlíou,the day of the Sun. But the Christians very very very (crazily) early (within a couple of decades of the Resurrection!) began calling the first day of the week by a new name: in Greek, Κυριακή – Kiriaki; in Latin,Dominicus: the Lord's [day]. You can find this new word used as a commonplace in Acts 20:7, but it shows up more and more in later first and second century documents, from the Didacheon. This has filtered down to the present in Romance languages as domenica (Italian), domingo (Spanish), dimanche (French), etc.
So we are now living in the time of the New Creation, in a whole different relationship with time itself, and the calendar has shifted as a result. Time, the week, the year, is fixed according to the Resurrection. That is what we observe every Sunday. Sunday, every Sunday, is an Easter Day. And when the Lord comes again, it will be our Easter, our resurrection.
Recommended reading: Pope John Paul's document Dies Domini (The Lord's Day): On Keeping the Lord's Day Holy.