Thursday, February 26, 2009

On the Fast Track

Today's Lenten reflection: fasting gives you a new perspective on things. Yesterday I fasted until after sundown, when I had a small cheese sandwich. And let me tell you, it was the BEST cheese sandwich I had ever eaten! Fasting makes you grateful for what you have and reminds you that others have much less. That is one reason to fast.

Another reason is for the love of God. This analogy may be a bit of a stretch, but imagine for a moment that you are a cartoonist who has created two characters, Pingo and Ooble. Pingo loves to eat cactus flowers and Ooble has a penchant for eggnog-flavored yogurt. You love your little cartoon characters, because you created them. Now imagine that they have free will. How amazing it would be if they freely loved you back!

Of course, Pingo could refuse to acknowledge that you created him and insist that he is a random spill of ink, but for the sake of this analogy let's say both cartoon creatures acknowledge that you created them. Then say that you had to have cataract surgery and couldn't eat your favorite food (say, persimmons) during your recovery. Pingo would say that's sad, but you created him to eat cactus flowers and he saw no reason to stop doing what he loves. Ooble would say she wanted to share in your suffering, so she would not eat eggnog-flavored yogurt until you could eat persimmons again. Wouldn't you feel a special affection for Ooble? You have to stop eating persimmons to save her (because she does not exist if you do not have your eyesight to create her), but she does not HAVE to give up her favorite food to help. She is doing it only to show her support, the way people shave their heads to show their support for a friend who is going through chemotherapy and losing her hair.

This is what Lenten fasting is. God doesn't say we have to give up chocolate, He created it and knows it is good, but when we give up something we love, we are sharing in His forty days of suffering in the desert. He suffered to save us, so we can show our gratitude by voluntarily suffering a little for his sake, not because He wants us to suffer but because it shows how close we feel to Him that we want to share in both His joy and His pain. That is true love.

Famous Hat

No comments: