This is the good news that we celebrate each Easter. In fact, we are invited to recall the reality of Christ’s Resurrection each Sunday, thinking of it as a “little” Easter.
The Scriptures note that the Resurrection took place on the first day of the week after the Sabbath, which was the day of rest after a week of labor. This was established in imitation of the Lord who rested on the seventh day after His work of creation as described in the first chapters of Genesis.
The fact that “God rested” on the seventh day may puzzle us. Why would God need to rest? The answer is found in the Easter Vigil liturgy.
If you go to the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, you will hear the story of creation from Genesis. Each day, God creates specific things and declares them “good” in His sight. On the sixth day, God creates man and woman in His image and likeness. He blesses them, commissions them to oversee all of creation, multiply their own offspring and receive what God has provided for their needs. On the seventh day, God rests in His work, signifying the completion of the first creation.
In his apostolic letter, “Dies Domini”, St. John Paul II highlights that God’s rest is a contemplative gaze of love as He rejoices in the goodness of His work. Man and woman are at the pinnacle of God’s creation, and it is on the last day of His work that God finds everything not only good, but “very good”. St. John Paul II invites us to consider how God lingers before the wonderous goodness of His work. Perhaps it is like the joy and awe of new parents who gaze at their newborn for the first time. It is a contemplative gaze that does not seek to do more or plan for what’s next. Instead, it is a deep experience of rest and contentment.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church” also reminds us that the Sabbath rest allows us to reclaim our humanity by not serving the demands of work or pursuing the attraction of money. It is lived out through the celebration and observation of the Lord’s Day.
The Lord’s Day is the first day of the week when Jesus rose from the dead and reminds us of the creation story in Genesis. Christ’s Resurrection announces a new creation in which death is overcome and we are made new in Christ through our baptism. This is why we renew our baptismal promises each Easter and the Church receives new catechumens at the Easter vigil. Christ’s Resurrection and triumph over sin and death goes beyond our limited experience. His victory extends into eternity and makes it possible for us to live with God in Heaven forever. When the paschal candle is blessed on Holy Saturday, the priest prays, “Christ yesterday and today, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, all time belongs to him and all the ages, to him be glory and power through every age and forever. Amen.”
For this reason, the Church Fathers often referred to the Lord’s Day as the “eighth day” to remind us of our density to the “day without end” in eternity.
Our faith is founded on the Resurrection of Jesus and is celebrated each Sunday when we go to Mass. We are obliged to go to Mass each Sunday where we recall what the Lord has done for us and His victory over sin and death. Christ has given us everything when He died on the cross. Now He wants to give us Himself in the Eucharist. Let us heed St. John Paul II’s encouragement, “Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ…Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human. (“Dies Domini,” 7). May this Easter Season be a new beginning for us to live in the light of Christ’s Resurrection by going to Mass each Sunday and allowing God to gaze on us, His new creation.