"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" is the third of Krzysztof Kieslowski's dramatizations revolving around the Ten Commandments. On Christmas Eve, Janusz (Daniel Olbrychski), a taxi driver, returns home dressed as Santa Claus. He gives gifts to his two children and happy wife (Joanna Szczepowska). Then at Midnight Mass, he sees Ewa (Maria Pakulnis), his former mistress from three years earlier. She has just returned from a sad visit with her senile aunt at a senior citizens' center. Ewa disappears from the church without making contact with Janusz.
But then she calls him at home; he answers the phone and tells his wife that he must go out to see if his cab has been stolen. The beleaguered Ewa claims that her husband has mysteriously disappeared. Janusz decides to leave the warmth of his home to help Ewa find him. They search for her missing husband at the hospital, at a center for alcoholics, and at a railroad station.
Ewa and Janusz have a lot of business to take care of in their unresolved relationship. They are not even sure who was to blame for the end of the affair. They have both been deeply hurt and disappointed as evidenced by the way they continue to torment each other. By the end of the long evening, they mutually make a definite decision about the relationship.
There are many ways to unpack the spiritual meanings of this drama. Kieslowski opens doors for us as we watch Ewa and Janusz struggle to deal with guilt, regret, anger, blame, and deceit. The novelist and essayist Alice Walker has written: "Anybody can observe the Sabbath but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week." That truth goes to the heart of this Decalogue film. Perhaps we honor the Sabbath best when we use this brief respite from our habitual activities to struggle with what is most important to us during the rest of the week. Perhaps we keep the Sabbath when we stop taking the people in our lives for granted. And perhaps we are the Sabbath when we leave the safe haven of home to be present with a lost and lonely soul who is at the end of her rope. One thing is for sure, making the Sabbath holy is not an easy or simple process. It is a challenge and a responsibility that must be shouldered again and again.