This post gives my response (only) to the legalistic argument for the Saturday sabbath over the Sunday observance made by Lou, one of the Internet’s more offensive anti-Catholics.
Father Joe writes:
As for Scripture verses that seem to put things in a more balanced perspective, we read:
“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never be the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near” (Hebrews 10:1).
Believers in Jesus assemble on Sunday to commemorate the Lord’s Supper and the one sacrifice that makes true and lasting reparation to the throne of God. The Sunday Eucharist, not temple sacrifice or synagogue service, is the foretaste of the “good things” offered by our Savior.
“Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:23-26).
The coming of Christ has changed many things. God, who is Spirit, is reflected in the face of Jesus Christ. This ushers in a new age regarding the economy of images. Thus, the early Christians developed religious art and statuary to convey their faith and devotion. Christian faith in Jesus is paramount and the Sunday observance of his resurrection becomes an element of the new law over the old.
“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’; but the law does not rest on faith, for ‘He who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us— for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree’ – that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:10-13).
The law was the Hebrew elaboration upon the Ten Commandments and the various ancient divine mandates. While the commandments retain their binding force, it is in light of Christ’s two-fold commandment to love God and neighbor. The old law is reinterpreted in light of the Christ-event and the lived-situation of converts for whom the “eighth day” was the principal occasion for celebrating their faith and their spiritual adoption.
“For Christ is the end of the law, that everyone who has faith may be justified” (Romans 10:4).
This confirms the Catholic interpretation of Matthew 5:17-18. Heaven and earth, as we knew it, has indeed passed away.
There are various Scriptures that place the spirit of the law over the letter. This might also be applied to the Christian Sunday since believers taking a day to praise and honor God will surely please our Lord. I can just see Lou now with his Seventh Day Adventist proclivities, banging his feet and shouting at God: “That’s not fair, God! They did not keep the right day! They had no right to single out Sunday as a day to commemorate Christ’s resurrection and to assemble. It is Saturday or nothing! They should be punished, not rewarded for remembering and loving you!”
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our sufficiency is from God, who has qualified us to be ministers of a new covenant, NOT IN A WRITTEN CODE BUT IN SPIRIT; for the written code kills, BUT THE SPIRIT GIVES LIFE. Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness, fading as this was, will not the DISPENSATION OF THE SPIRIT BE ATTENDED WITH GREATER SPLENDOR? For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor. Since we have such a hope, WE ARE VERY BOLD . . .” (2 Corinthians 3:5-12).
Our Lord is alive in his Church, making his presence and authority available. When Christ’s disciples were condemned by the Pharisees for plucking and eating the ears of grain on the Sabbath, our Lord defended them, saying, “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. FOR THE SON OF MAN IS LORD OF THE SABBATH” (Matthew 12:7-8). The rabid imitation of SDA faith that Lou promotes makes him an heir to the Pharisees. Lou witnesses this attitude on a viciously anti-Catholic website operated by his partner in crime Nicholas. Dispersions against those who worship God on Sunday (and not a pagan deity either) fall upon men and women who act in good faith. Instead of supporting their efforts to bring Jesus Christ back into people’s lives, they ridicule those who want a restoration of blue laws as pawns of the anti-Christ and associates of the Whore of Babylon.
There is a real sickness in their polemics. We need to pray for them.
Furthermore, the law of God mandated circumcision, and yet through the intervention of St. Paul, and the acceptance of St. Peter at the Council of Jerusalem, the Church abrogated that which was a major sign of membership in the People of God. One would not have to become Jewish before becoming a Christian. The matter of transferring the Sabbath to the day that commemorated Christ’s resurrection would seem a far easier matter and there is no critical debate among believers. “He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal” (Romans 2:29). Of course, up until modern times, many Christians, and Catholics in particular, took both Saturday and Sunday as special days of rest to be with family and to reaffirm their commitment to God. Many Catholics attend the Saturday night anticipatory Mass for Sunday. The Neocatechumenal Way, a religious association in the Church for post-baptismal catechesis, celebrates its liturgies ONLY on the Saturday Hebrew Sabbath. A menorah candle burns on the altar and the congregation dances the Jewish Mishnah around the altar at the end of the liturgy. They pledge obedience to the Pope and function entirely within the good graces of the Roman Catholic Church. They have so many vocations that they operate a number of their own seminaries, including a notable one in New Jersey. Thus, one could say that there is a growing restoration of the ancient Hebrew elements and the significance of the Jewish Sabbath, particularly as blended to the resurrection theme so very important on Sunday.