Let’s wrap up Chapter I, Dies Domini, the day of the Lord. We began it in numbered section 8. A curious question for watchers of Judaism and Christianity: how did they come to celebrate the Sabbath on different days of the week? The resurrection is the completion of the Exodus event–according to JP2’s predecessor Gregory the Great.
18. Because the Third Commandment depends upon the remembrance of God’s saving works and because Christians saw the definitive time inaugurated by Christ as a new beginning, they made the first day after the Sabbath a festive day, for that was the day on which the Lord rose from the dead. The Paschal Mystery of Christ is the full revelation of the mystery of the world’s origin, the climax of the history of salvation and the anticipation of the eschatological fulfillment of the world. What God accomplished in Creation and wrought for his People in the Exodus has found its fullest expression in Christ’s Death and Resurrection, though its definitive fulfillment will not come until the Parousia, when Christ returns in glory. In him, the “spiritual” meaning of the Sabbath is fully realized, as Saint Gregory the Great declares: “For us, the true Sabbath is the person of our Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ”.(“Verum autem sabbatum ipsum redemptorem nostrum Iesum Christum Dominum habemus“:Epist. 13, 1: CCL 140A, 992) This is why the joy with which God, on humanity’s first Sabbath, contemplates all that was created from nothing, is now expressed in the joy with which Christ, on Easter Sunday, appeared to his disciples, bringing the gift of peace and the gift of the Spirit (cf. Jn 20:19-23). It was in the Paschal Mystery that humanity, and with it the whole creation, “groaning in birth-pangs until now” (Rom 8:22), came to know its new “exodus” into the freedom of God’s children who can cry out with Christ, “Abba, Father!” (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the light of this mystery, the meaning of the Old Testament precept concerning the Lord’s Day is recovered, perfected and fully revealed in the glory which shines on the face of the Risen Christ (cf. 2 Cor 4:6). We move from the “Sabbath” to the “first day after the Sabbath”, from the seventh day to the first day: the dies Domini becomes the dies Christi!