I can see we will never see eye to eye on this one.
If I remember correctly, (and you can correct me if I'm wrong), Jesus suggested we could gather at home and break bread in His name and this would be like a church, but then along came the Catholics and said:
"No, no, no . . . not good enough! Only the Eucharist of an organized religion is the true Body of Christ".
It's true, there was a lot of conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. Just as you point out,
"For Jews, keeping the Sabbath involved extensive adherence to multiple codes"!
- But how did Jesus respond?
Jesus said, I desire Mercy, not sacrifice!
- In other words, A Pharisee can follow all the codes under the sun but if he can't show mercy to his brother, what has he accomplished?
Mercy, in fact, is focal to Jesus' teachings. If we think about it, there is no need to create an image of the sinner. The only image we need to create is the image of a Forgiver.
- Don't we ask God to Forgive us as we forgive others (by equal measure)?
So I come back to the Church.
- Why does the Church not show mercy and say, It's OK you missed Mass. Make your peace with God and come back when you are ready to. We are always here?
but No . . . instead, the Church wants us to feel guilty. The Church wants us to feel like a sinner.
Hail the sinner!
The Church wants us to know that if we don't confess to a priest after missing Mass, we are forbidden from partaking in the body of Christ. The Church's Mercy is conditional:
First, follow the code and then receive the Eucharist.
But you know, the Church has historically thrived on creating the image of the sinner.
A whole congregation of people would be against one man, if the priests so dictated it and they did lest we forget the Spanish inquisition? In fact, not too long ago, you could even buy a place in Heaven and be saved from all your sins, if you had enough cash. If the Church had fermented an image of the forgiver instead, there would have been no need for the Inquisition but of course it wasn't practical.
I would argue that an organized religion leads us astray, and in many ways, makes us less spiritual because it is contaminated. Better to make your church at home with your family like Jesus suggested.
As far as I'm concerned, the Church sounds just like the Pharisees.
So here is the true sequence of logic:
- We must keep the Sabbath.
- The Organized Catholic Church has self-appointed authority (even above the original Orthodox Church) to define and prescribe ecclesiastical law.
- The Church has distilled (watered down out of convenience) the foundational way we are to keep the Sabbath as community — forsaking all superfluous law and dismissing altogether what Jesus Himself prescribed.
- Barring legitimate dispensation, this law is to be kept, for it is the order by which we fulfill the commandment to uphold the Sabbath. Even though, we must not forget, lest someone not uphold the Sabbath, that to show Mercy towards this person would be even more important.
Peace and Love,