The third commandment tell us: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days youshall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.” This commandment is often ignored in our hectic contemporary lives. We have forgotten that “the Sabbath was made for man” (Mk.2:27). Keeping holy the Sabbath is much more than an obligation. It is a gift from God.
In the creation account of Genesis (1-2), God finished his work of creation in six days. On the seventh day God rested. God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it (Gn 2:3). At first glance this does not seem connected to the third commandment as there is no mention of Adam and Eve giving worship to God.
The Ten Commandments were given to Moses and the Israelite s as part of the covenant between God and his chosen people. The covenants that God makes with his people are not contracts. Nor are they just a set of promises between God and man. Covenants are how God enters into relationship with human beings. God gives himself to man as a free and undeserved gift.
Covenants are an exchange of hearts between God and and his people.
“The goal of creation is the covenant, the love story of God and Man…If then everything is directed to the covenant, it is important to see that the covenant is a relationship: God’s gift of himself to man, but also man’s response to God.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope (emeritus) Benedict).
The way that human beings respond to God, who is love, is by worshiping him in gratitude and thanksgiving. It is in worship that we love God who loved us first.
When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he fulfilled the old covenant. The day of resurrection, the first day of the week became the new Sabbath. This is because His resurrection recalls the first creation. “Because it is the eighth day following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection.” Sunday is the feast of feasts, the day of days. Sunday is the Lord ’s Day. (CCC 2174)
The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist and the Lord’s day is at the heart of the life of the Church. This is more than participating in Mass every Sunday. Sunday is also a day to give to God. It is a time to rest in the Lord. When we keep holy the Lord’s day we participate in God’s rest. We participate in God’s freedom. It is only by putting God first that we can truly be free.
Lent is a conversion of turning back to the Lord. It is a time to ask ourselves hard questions. Are we serving God alone? Do we participate in the Sunday Liturgy with our whole heart, mind, and soul? Are we resting in the Lord by refraining from unnecessary work or activities that keep us from true worship? Or are we slaves to work and activities that keep God at a distance?