Easter - Week 03b

Third Sunday of Easter - The Lord's day

(From Conversation with God, Fernandez Carvajal)

On Sundays there is an assembly of all who live in towns or in the country. This is the first day, on which God transformed darkness and matter and made the world; the day on which Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead. The Jewish Sabbath gave way to the Christian Sunday from the very beginning of the Church, and from then on, every Sunday we celebrate the Lord's Resurrection.

Saturday was the day dedicated to Yahweh in the Old Testament. God himself instituted it and commanded the Israelites to abstain from certain tasks on that day in order to honour him properly. It was also the day on which the family got together to celebrate the end of the captivity in Egypt. As time passed, the rabbis complicated the divine precept, so that by the time of Jesus there had come into being a series of oppressive and meticulous prescriptions that bore no relation to what God had laid down about the Sabbath.

The Pharisees clashed frequently with Jesus on these points. In spite of this, Our Lord did not look down on the Sabbath, did not suppress it as a day dedicated to Yahweh; on the contrary, it would seem to have been his favourite day. On that day he went to the synagogues to preach, and many of his miracles were performed on the Sabbath.

Sacred Scripture everywhere presents a lofty and noble idea of the Sabbath. It was the day established by God so that his people might devote to him public cult, and the complete dedication of the day to this purpose appears as a grave obligation. The importance of this command is also deduced from its repetition in Scripture. Sometimes the prophets point out as a cause of God's punishments the fact that people have not kept the Sabbath. The Sabbath rest was a strictly religious event, which is why it always culminated in the offering of a sacrifice.

The feast days of Israel, and particularly the Sabbath, were a sign of the Divine Covenant and the people's way of expressing their joy at being God's property and the object of his election and his love. That is why every feast day was linked to a salvation event. Yet these feast days contained only the promise of a reality which still had to take place. With the Resurrection of Our Lord the Sabbath gives way to the reality which it had foreshadowed, the Christian celebration. Our Lord himself speaks of the kingdom of God as a great banquet offered by a king on the occasion of the wedding of his son, through whom we are invited to share in the messianic benefits. With Christ there arises a new and superior cult, because now we have also a new priest, and a new victim is offered.