Is the Catholic Church Responsible for Changing the Sabbath?


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For today's Catholic Friday post, I've asked Dave Vermont, our 52 Prayers Roman Catholic Representative why the Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.  Here's what Dave has to say...

Will you be surprised when I say Catholics did not change the Sabbath, Christ did.  The Sabbath is a day for rest and prayer and reflecting on God’s glory.  The Gospels clearly show that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and his family hurried to bury him before the Sabbath.  He remained 3 days in the tomb (by Jewish reckoning a whole “day” is counted if any part of the day is reached) and was resurrected on a Sunday.  Thus, Sunday, is the new Sabbath, “the Lord’s Day”.

Since Jesus was the Son of God, he had authority to change the Sabbath. When his disciples were chastised for picking grain on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-28), Christ pointed to an example from the life of David to justify the conclusion, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath" (v. 27-28).

In Colossians 2:14-16, Paul mentions the Sabbath by name, stating that Christ has, "canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands . . . Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ."  Paul thus states that the whole Jewish festival calendar, Sabbath days included, is not binding on Christians.  This is not to say that Christ cancelled the 10 Commandments, He most certainly did not.  We still keep holy the Sabbath day; it’s just on a different day.  Just like we all still have only 1 God of the first Commandment, but now understand him as a trinity.

If we have a New Covenant, and a new Sabbath, what day is it?  We know from our Tradition the answer is Sunday and we see this confirmed in multiple New Testament texts.  For example, when Paul was in Troas, he says "we stayed for seven days" and he specifically singles out Sunday as the day on which Mass was celebrated.  "On the first day of the week . . . we were gathered together to break bread" (Acts 20:7). 

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