As we enter the season of Lent I can't help but to think about how easily we lose the actual meaning of things. Come lent, people are giving up something they enjoy often like sweets or certain types of meat. In fact in the modern world we are even giving up things like social websites. I believe it is safe to say we are attempting to honor the tradition of fasting, as Jesus did, but in the context of the world today. I ask myself, however, what was the purpose of the 40 days of fasting for Jesus? Why do we fast, is it really helping us get closer to God?
I believe these are questions we have to ask ourselves. In yesterday's gospel* we see how Jesus is able to defend himself from the devil through the powerful words of God. Jesus not only fasted during the 40 days but He meditated on scripture. I have always admired the way Jesus responds to the devil in saying "One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God". Then the devil uses part of Psalm 91 against Jesus and Jesus throws scripture right back at Him. It is a gospel reading that has always stood out for me. I often wondered if I would ever be able to quote scripture during tempting times the way that Jesus did. Can you imagine how amazing that would be?
So yes some of us are going vegetarian or staying clear of social websites during this time, but the question is, what are we doing in place of it to develop a closer relationship to Christ? Even just meditating on the commandments that Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:37-39** can help us build a better relationship with Christ. How can we best love God and love our neighbor? Lent calls us to focus on prayer, fasting, and service to strengthen our relationship with Christ and with one another.
Whatever it is we choose to give up for Lent, let's go the extra mile of developing a lasting relationship with God.