|Posted on December 7, 2020 at 7:35 AM|
Today I am reviewing the third of the Ten Commandments, which is “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.” Exodus 20:8-19 says this: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days a week you shall 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.”
For the Jewish people, the sabbath was traditionally on Saturday. However, Christ’s resurrection was on Sunday, the “first day of the week.” So for Christians, “Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.” (Catechism 2177) Therefore we recognize Sunday as the traditional day of rest associated with the third commandment.
From the beginnings of Christianity, we see how the practice of Christian assembly on the sabbath became one of the most important aspects of faith. Back then people met in homes, and now today we have church buildings to use for our assemblies. Regular Sunday worship does fulfill the moral component of this commandment, and participation in mass is an excellent way to reverence God and keep His day holy. Of course in these days of covid-19, many churches have suspended services, others are doing only on-line, and others have a mixture of in-person and online live-streaming, so there are still opportunities to participate in Sunday worship.
I realize that is not practical for most people to avoid all work on Sundays. Many people have jobs requiring work on this day, such as health care workers and policemen, and we need to prepare food to feed our families and care for our family members. And these things are ok, as they do not hinder our worship of God.
But most of us fail to observe a true day of rest on Sunday. Sporting events occur, we go shopping (and not just for essentials), and we do many other things that detract us from honoring God. It is so sad to me that many sporting tournaments occur on weekends, and people often end up missing church due to their commitment to the sport.
So the questions I can ask myself about the third commandment are: Do I attend church on Sunday if at all possible, and offer my worship to God? Have I avoided unnecessary work and focus on rest and leisure?
Although I do make every effort to attend mass every week, even when traveling, I still break the third commandment regularly. My husband and I used to go out for breakfast after attending mass. Is that really necessary? No, and I can find all kinds of reasons to “justify” doing it! However, now that restaurants are closed for dine-in, it is easier to plan meals at home on Sundays.
I also have found myself regularly shopping and attending unnecessary events on Sundays. Yet there is no reason for me to shop on Sunday – I have six other days of the week to do that! I am happy that some businesses have taken a stand and are regularly closed on Sunday – good for them! It’s a good reminder to me that Sundays are important, and I still have six days of the week that I can patronize these businesses. Yesterday, I realized I needed several grocery items, but I decided there was no harm in my waiting one more day to go shopping.
This commandment is a challenge for many people to keep, especially now that during the pandemic we are limited in the ways we can enjoy time with family and friends, which for many people used to be a regular Sunday occurrence. And I often have to bring up my failure to keep the Sabbath holy during my confessions. I need to continue to look closely at my activities on Sunday and try to ensure I am avoiding the unnecessary “work” as much as possible.
This week I challenge you to look at the third Commandment a little more closely and assess whether or not you are truly keeping the sabbath holy in your life. If you are having trouble with doing unnecessary things on Sunday, perhaps you can focus more on fitting this “work” into the other six days of the week. Whatever you do, I hope that you find yourself moving closer to God and finding a blessing in His presence.
Have a blessed Monday!
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