We rarely think of days as being prophetic. Indeed, many Christians often treat our days only as a line of empty vessels of time which we fill in accordance to our whims and fancies. The week, therefore, as mentioned in a previous post, passes by us as a conveyor belt of empty units of time to be filled.
In contrast to this attitude Blessed John Paul II, in a little known but moving apostolic letter entitled Dies Domini ("the Day of the Lord"), spoke of one particular day - Sunday - as something special. Far from being a vessel to be filled, the day itself speaks to the other days. Further, John Paul ties this day very closely with Eucharistic practice, making the living out of one's Sunday as an act of prophesying the coming of the Lord to the other days, and orienting all these other days around the day of the Lord. In so doing, Sunday acts not only as an empty gong, an irrelevant gloss over the realities of this world. Rather, it becomes a concrete spatial means of interrupting the patterns of secular culture, and undoing the frustrations that come with the "designs of the nations". If this were to be taken seriously, then it behooves Christians to make every effort to make Sunday as unlike the other days of the week as possible, a process that begins, according to John Paul, with the Sunday Eucharist. The structure of the Eucharistic act, then radiates out to reorientate the structures of other institutions in our culture.
Paragraph 73 is particularly instructive on the significance of Sunday.
Lived in this way, not only the Sunday Eucharist but the whole of
Sunday becomes a great school of charity, justice and peace. The presence
of the Risen Lord in the midst of his people becomes an undertaking of
solidarity, a compelling force for inner renewal, an inspiration to change
the structures of sin in which individuals, communities and at times
entire peoples are entangled.
Far from being an escape, the Christian
Sunday is a "prophecy" inscribed on time itself, a prophecy
obliging the faithful to follow in the footsteps of the One who came "to
preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to captives and new
sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to
proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Lk 4:18-19). In
the Sunday commemoration of Easter, believers learn from Christ, and
remembering his promise: "I leave you peace, my peace I give you"
(Jn 14:27), they become in their turn builders of peace.
Labels: Church and Culture, John Paul II, resources