CHRIST HONORS THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK
Christians gathered on the first day of the week because that was the day of the Lord’s greatest triumph over Satan and death. Luke’s Gospel proclaims that Christ rose on the first day of the week.
Jesus also choose the first day of the week to appear to His Apostles. And seven days later on the following Sunday He also chose to appear again when Saint Thomas was present. John 20:19, 26. “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word for “fiftieth.” Leviticus 23:15 gives the method for computing the day of "Pentecost,” also called the Feast of Weeks. It always falls on the first day of the week. And it was on this day that God chose to inaugurate the Christian Church with the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. Cf. Acts 2:1.
In the Old Covenant the Jews communed with God by worshipping Him on the Sabbath. This only prefigured and has given way to the greater method of communing with God in the New Covenant by our reception of the Eucharist, Holy Communion, on the first day of the week.
Also, in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24, we read about Christ’s example that we all should follow.
Christ’s actions signify the two elements of the Lord’s Supper, the celebration of which Catholics call the Mass. Jesus opens up the Word of God to their hearts and then blesses and brakes bread with them. And He does this with the disciples on the first day of the week.
Saint Paul who says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ,” gives us an example to follow in Acts 20:7 when he celebrates the Eucharist on the first day of the week.
“Sunday recalls the day of Christ’s Resurrection. It is Easter
which returns week by week, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and
death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of
‘the new creation’ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17) …
To make a covenant is to establish a family bond, and it is accomplished by the swearing of an oath. ( Ezekiel 16:8 “… I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you; you became mine, says the Lord GOD.” NAB. Also see Ez 16:59, 17:13, Lk 1:72-73. ) However, Jesus came to give us a better Covenant. Hebrews 8:6 “Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises.” NAB To make an oath is to make a promise and to invoke God’s Holy Name to that promise. When Jesus makes a promise His Holy Name is already attached to it, so Jesus’ promises are His oaths. He has established the New Covenant by these better promises, His better oaths. When Jesus established the New Covenant, He made a new and better family bond with His people by His oaths.
The Hebrew word for “seven" is “sheba.” (Strong’s # 7651) The word “sheba” is built on the Hebrew verb “shaba - to swear an oath.” (Strong’s # 7650) Because of the close connection of the Hebrew words for “oath” and “seven” it could be said that when God established a covenant with us by His oaths that He “seventhed” Himself to us. Because we Christians have a much better covenant than what the Jews had it could be said that God has “seventhed” Himself to us in a much better way than what He had done with the Jews. Therefore, it is appropriate that God has given us a new and better “seventh day” to signify this better “seventhing” of Himself.
God had wanted the Jews to celebrate the Sabbath on the seventh day. It was a sign of the Old Covenant that He had made with Israel as they accepted Him as their Creator and God. Saturday had special significance for the Jews because it was dedicated to the completion of God’s creative work. But, God’s redemptive work is greater than His creative work.
“Justification is the most excellent work of God's love made manifest
The first day of the week, and every seven days after that, signifies
Jesus’ saving and redemptive work, His greater work, that he accomplished
by His death on the cross and His resurrection on Easter Sunday, Cf.
Romans 4:25. Jesus choose this day to manifest His
glory and inaugurate His Church as seen above. By redeeming us in Christ,
we are God’s New Creation.
The Latin word for oath is “sacramentum” and it is from this word that we get the English word “Sacrament.” CCC # 1210 “Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven…” # 1131 “The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, …entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.”
Genesis 21:28-31 “Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. And Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set apart?’ He said, ‘These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that you may be a witness for me that I dug this well.’ Therefore that place was called Beer-sheba; because there both of them swore an oath." RSV Some Bible footnotes point out how Beer-sheba can be interpreted as “well of the oath,” or “well of the seven.”
NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH
The world is being transformed by His grace. Matthew 5:17-18 “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” An Adventist might contend that the previous passage does not allow for the abolishment or replacement of the Sabbath with an even better seventh day. However, upon closer study we can see that this is not so.
Jesus perfectly fulfilled the requirements of the Law and the Prophets and ushered in a New Covenant where we might enter into the kingdom of God either mystically or at least partially here on earth and completely in heaven. John’s death happens at some point between Luke 7:20 and 9:9. (Cf. Mat. 4:10) Sometime after his death we read in Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets lasted until John; but from then on the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone who enters does so with violence.” NAB Luke 16:16-17 “The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void.” RSV Jesus doesn’t say that it is impossible for part of the law to become void, only that it is very difficult. And we will see that it was very costly.
Now, we already know that some of the Old Testament ritual laws are void, no longer binding, such as circumcision, temple sacrifices, etc. Cf. Galatians 5 :2, and Acts 15. Therefore the “heaven and earth pass(ing) away" must be some sort of spiritual reality that has already occurred or is in the process of occurring. It is not a reference to the end of the world, but the coming of the new age, which occurs with the coming of the Messiah, and the New Covenant. Hebrews 9:26 “…But as it is, he (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” We are living in the new and final age that was prophesied by Isaiah as the time of the “new heavens and a new earth." Isaiah 66:22-23 “As the new heavens and the new earth which I will make Shall endure before me, says the LORD, so shall your race and your name endure. From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, All mankind shall come to worship before me, says the LORD.” NAB cf. Isa. 65: 17-20. The early leaders of the Church understood this prophesy to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ who brings both Jews and Gentiles to worship God the Father.
Jesus says that it was not easy for the Old Covenant laws to be dispensed
with. It was only by the sacrifice of God the Father of His only begotten
Son that has freed us from the requirements of circumcision and the other
Old Testament rituals, like Sabbathing on the seventh day, that are no longer
When Jesus took a human nature he also took upon himself all the sufferings that come with every day life and this eventually led to his crucifixion. It seems that Saint Matthew wanted to remind his readers about the great cost with which we were sent free before telling them about that which is probably one of Jesus’s most difficult teachings to accept. The verses immediately following Luke 16:16-17 record Jesus’s prohibition against divorce and remarriage. In verse 16 when Jesus says, “…the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone who enters does so with violence.” [New Am Bible], He is probably referring to how we must die to ourselves to follow Christ.
The world has been corrupted by sin, but it also has been redeemed by Christ. As the infinite grace of Jesus Christ is applied to ourselves and the world it transforms us and makes us holy. The kingdom of God is not just in heaven but it is supernaturally made present here on earth. The Church is the New Jerusalem. Cf. Rev. 21:2, Gal. 4:26 Luke 10:17-18 “The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Matthew 12:28 “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” We have a new heaven and earth transformed by God’s grace.
The writing of Pseudo -Barnabas shows that this idea was not unknown
of in the early church.
2 Corinthians 5:17
CCC 349 The
eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ’s
Resurrection. The seventh day completes the first creation. The eighth day
begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater
work of redemption. The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the
new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first
God is the creator of time and space. The creation of the day and night, and the sun , the moon and the stars show God as the creator of time. The creation of all the fish, birds, and all the animals that occupy the world that God created show God as the creator of space. The two key elements in the Jewish worship service, the Temple and the Sabbath, manifested God’s Lordship over these. The Temple manifested God’s sovereignty over space. Although God is everywhere the Temple was especially consecrated to God. He dwelt there in a special way. However, in the New Covenant it is replaced with the new Temple, the Church, the Body of Christ. Likewise, the Sabbath which manifested God’s sovereignty over time has been replaced with a better seventh day in the New Covenant.
Saint John the Evangelist, in the fourth Gospel, also shows how Christ’s redemptive work is also recognized as His new creation. In the prologue to this Gospel we find several allusions to Genesis with this motif of the “new creation.” They are;
1) St. John begins his first chapter with the words
2) We see the theme of the light shinning into the darkness John 1:4-5 “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This theme of light had been a prominent feature in the first creation as well. Genesis 1:2-3 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”
3) The Spirit in the form of a dove descends at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River John 1: 32, and the Spirit hovers over the waters in Gen. 1: 2.
4)The theme of God’s creation coming through His Word is found in John 1:3 and Gen. 1: 3. John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word… (3) all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Genesis 1:3 “And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. Our creator and our redeemer are one in the same.
5) We also see a new creation week. At Cana, the new Adam, Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:45), changed the water into wine, symbolizing the change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. St. John tells us that there were seven days from “In the Beginning” to the beginning of Christ’s work here at Cana.
These seven days correspond to the seven days of creation in Genesis.
John 1: 1, 29, 35, 43.
“In the beginning…(29)
The next day…(35)
The next day… (43)
The next day…” this brings us to the fourth
day. The next reference to time is found in John 2:1
the third day there was a marriage at Cana…”
But the third day from
the fourth day is the seventh day. Thus the third day and the seventh
day are the same day. In the New Covenant of Jesus Christ we have a
new seventh day, but it is also the third day - the day He rose from the
dead, Luke 24: 46. The third day was also the day that
the child Jesus was found teaching His Word in the temple. We also
find a close connection between the third and seventh day in Numbers
19:12 “…he shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and
on the seventh day, and so be clean…” Saint John makes these parallels
with the book of Genesis, including the new seven days, so that we might
see that we are a new creation in Christ. Along with the New Covenant
and the new creation we have a new seventh day.
John writes at the end of his Gospel John 21:25 “But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” Saint John has more things to write about than he has paper to write it on. With so many important things to write about he doesn’t waste words. The Holy Spirit must of had a reason to inspire the Evangelist to record the chronology of these seven days.
The book of Revelations a blueprint for the Sacred Liturgy of the Christian community’s weekly worship. There is the reading of the Word of God (chapters 2 -5), and the partaking of the wedding banquet of the Lamb of God, our Passover Sacrifice (chapter 19) and this takes place on the Lord’s Day. Revelation 1:10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet…” RSV
The book of Revelation was written by Saint John. For an explanation of the “Lord’s Day” see the quote listed below by Saint Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, who was also a disciple of Saint John.
Under the New Covenant the day of public worship has been changed to the first day of the week. “Because it (the first day) is the “eighth day” following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) - Sunday.” CCC 2174.
Jesus was given full authority to alter or change the Sabbath in any way that He wished to. Ref. Matthew 12:8 and Matthew 28:18-20. And He gave that Authority to the Church that He founded on Peter.
Matthew 16:15-19 “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ ” RSV Cf. Isaiah 22:15, 19-24 and Isaiah 36:1-3
Luke 22:29-32 “…and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to
me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom,
and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Simon,
Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you (plural), that he might sift you
like wheat, but I have prayed for you (singular) that your faith may
not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”
“This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful ‘not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.’ [Heb. 10:25] Tradition preserves the memory of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach the Lord, and confess your sins, repent in prayer.... Be present at the sacred and divine liturgy, conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal.... We have often said: ‘This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ ” CCC # 2178
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