Respecting the Sabbath…
The Sabbath was over, so Jesus’ followers went to anoint Him properly:
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. -Mark 16:1-2, NAB
That’s right. Jesus’ followers held so tightly to respecting the Sabbath that they may have hurried His burial. It would have been against Jewish custom to prepare His body on the Sabbath, and with the Sabbath approaching, they had to bury Him quickly.
If we look back to Mark 15:42, we see that Joseph of Arimathea wasted little time going to Pilate for Jesus’ body. Then, they quickly put Him in the tomb before the sabbath. In Luke 23, we see that they choose to wait it out:
It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment. -Luke 23:54-56, NAB
Their Lord, God’s own Son, just died, and they stopped to rest on the Sabbath? Yes. Violating the Sabbath would have been a sin, and they felt it was inappropriate to prepare His body on that day. For that reason, they did what they could and decided to return later. Personally, I find it truly amazing.
Do we respect the Sabbath in the same way? Is the Sabbath a day of rest? It is one of the Ten Commandments. We’re afraid to steal, kill, and covet our neighbor’s wife, but we violate the Sabbath without much thought. Sometimes, we even go so far as to arrange our Mass attendance around our work schedule.
I applaud the handful of companies that choose to remain closed on the Sabbath – Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A come to mind. They choose to close their doors on what would be a high revenue day – simply to honor the Sabbath. The owners want to make it a day of rest for themselves, as well as their employees. Few businesses would sacrifice 1/7th (or more) of their profits for this.
Honoring the Sabbath should still be a part of our regular practices as a Catholic; it is not simply an Old Testament idea that we can forget about. Like the other Commandments, we will have to answer for our actions, one day. Not only that, but God intended the Sabbath for good. We often overwork ourselves, and He gave us the Sabbath to ensure that we take time to rest.
Our lives are busy – I get that – but we must stop and make time for our Lord. He blesses us with 128 hours in the week; the least we could do is give a few back in return. Whatever you may be working on, whatever you may be doing, it will still be there Monday, I promise you that.
It’s time we began respecting the Sabbath again. We have lost our way, but it’s not too late to make a change. Let’s take back our Sundays!