One of the most difficult apologetic questions faced by Catholics is the question of the Saturday Sabbath versus Sunday worship. The reasons for the difficulty of the question are in part because the advocates for the Saturday Sabbath (mostly Seventh Day Adventists) study the issue exhaustively and feel strongly about it. The other reason is because the Church acknowledges that the Sunday obligation is different from the Sabbath. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Sunday is expressly distinguished from the Sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the Sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ: (Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.) CCC 2175
Thus, it is the Catholic Church’s position that the keeping of the Saturday Sabbath is no longer obligatory because the purpose of the Sabbath is fulfilled in keeping the Sunday obligation. If one looks carefully at the third commandment, we can see that the keeping of the Sunday obligation not only fulfills the purpose of the Sabbath but is necessary to truly honor the salvific work of the Lord.
In order to understand this issue we have to look at what is the purpose of the Sabbath? Let’s look at the Bible:
“… for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. THEREFORE the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:11)
Thus, according to Exodus, God made the Sabbath holy so that we might recognize the glory of his creation. When Christ is resurrected, He brings about the beginning of the new creation which we are living in now and creation will be fully glorified in a, “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) in the fullness of time.
Further in Deuteronomy we also learn:
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. THEREFORE the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” (Deuteronomy 5:15)
So the second purpose of the Sabbath is for the Jewish people to remember that they were slaves. With his resurrection, Jesus saves us from a different slavery, not a slavery of physical bondage but a worse slavery, the slavery of sin.
Thus, because of the resurrection, the dual purposes of the Sabbath are fulfilled on a different day – Sunday. On Sunday, Jesus is resurrected and he becomes the new High Priest of the new creation. We are told, “For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.” (Hebrews 7:12). Thus, to honor the new creation there must be a, “change in law” and to honor the new creation you must observe the day of the new creation – Sunday. Similarly, to honor our salvation from the slavery of sin, we must observe the day of resurrection when sin was defeated.
In conclusion, not only is Sunday worship biblical but it is a NECESSITY if you believe in Jesus. If you reject Sunday worship you are in reality and substance refusing to be grateful to Jesus for the work he accomplished.