Sunday: its theology
God came and walked on earth. He left His footprints on several places and some of these are:
• The stable in Bethlehem, where He was born in a manger,
• the lake in Galilee, where He walked and chose His first disciples,
• the hillsides and plains that heard His voice teaching the crowds,
• the mount of Transfiguration that saw His divinity shining like the sun,
• the garden of Gesthemane, where He shed tears of anguish,
• the place of Golgotha, where He shed His blood,
• his empty tomb.
The whole Palestine, which He crossed “doing good and healing” (Acts 10,38), is the Holy Land that reminds us of Godman's visit. We can go to this Holy Land if we wish and kneel on the sacred ground. However, we can also find this Holy Land in every Church because there we can enter Christ's life through the Holy Sacraments:
♦ In the Prothesis (Preparation table) we see Bethlehem,
♦ in the Holy Altar we stare at Golgotha,
♦ in the baptismal font we see the river Jordan,
♦ from the oil lamp of the sanctuary we take the light of the Resurrection.
On the other hand, during His lifetime lots of divine signs took place:
◊ Epiphany, when God Father showed His Son and the Holy Spirit rested on Him in the form of a dove,
◊ the Passion, when Jesus was gradually led to His crucifixion and death,
◊ the Resurrection, that filled with light and happiness the hearts of the faithful,
◊ the Ascension, which glorified human nature,
◊ the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit laid the foundation of the Church.
All those supernatural events that brought salvation to the suffering human beings are the religious celebrations of our Church that keep, through the grace of the Sacraments, alive the presence of Christ among us. So, the faithful, no matter of the age we live in, can:
√ Meet our Lord Jesus Christ, the Godman,
√ become his disciples,
√ walk with Him,
√ listen to His words,
√ see His miracles,
√ live His Resurrection,
√ commune Him.
All the above, that is, the Holy Land and the sacred celebrations, are offered in a way that only God could cοnceive and attain, in the day of Sunday. On Sunday and during the Divine Liturgy, being its essential feature, we gather in church where our Lord comes physically through the Holy Eucharist. Sunday helps us to take part in His life from the manger to the empty tomb. There, in the Church, in front of the holy altar and among the angels and saints we embrace God’s space and our soul rests, because it senses the divine eternity. At the same time we enter in God’s time through the Holy Communion where Christ is present in the bread of Prothesis, on the altar and in the Holy Chalice. Then our soul, full of eternity, rejoices. Sunday offers a spiritual space without borders and a limitless time. It brings God both in our life and heart... Sunday offers an always present experience of God’s love, which is expressed and realized tangibly in the Divine Liturgy.
It is, also, a living memorial of the past, a kind of a historical witness. It is a one and only witness in the course of humanity that constantly testifies the redemptive work of the resurrected Christ until this day.
Also, Sunday is a prophecy of the future, as the enlightened Fathers of our Church have remarked. The present world is included in the seven days of the week, which are constantly recycled till this world comes to an end. Sunday is considered to be the eighth day, which succeeds the seventh, and prophesies the future life, inaugurated by Christ’s resurrection. This eighth day is the sweet eternity of God’s kingdom. It starts now in Christ’s Church and expands farther after this earthly time. Sunday allows us to have this experience in advance.
When God started the creation of the world by bringing light in the abyss it was the first day of time. “And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Ge 1,5). It was also the first day of the week when Christ started reforming mankind by defeating death in Hades, “But on the first day of the week” (Lk 24,1). So, on Sunday the faithful celebrate both the birthday of the creation and the revival of humanity by Jesus Christ, while we experience in advance the future world of eternity, the heavenly rebirth.
When we talk about the theological meaning of Sunday, we present the great truths of our faith. Sunday is:
• The first day of the world’s creation,
• the day of the Resurrection and man’s re-creation,
• the apocalyptic day of the future eternity,
• the day of Divine Liturgy in our church life.
Thinking of Sunday we feel, indeed, the need:
◊ To thank God for the world He offered us,
◊ to praise Him for His Church and His Resurrection and,
◊ to have an ever ending expectation for His blessed kingdom.
The existence of Sunday in the worldly calendar constitutes a visit of God Himself, Who by approaching us breaks the earthly boundaries and opens the way to heaven, the way that leads to His Presence.
To be continued