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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

 

LIVING IN THE DESERT (GOOD FRIDAY)

We fast to remove our attachments. God fasted the Jewish people in the desert for forty years to remove whatever attachments they developed during their stay in Egypt. Christ showed us how to remove all attachments during His 40 days of fasting in the desert. And Scriptures has it that Christ fasted from all attachments only once; if done well, these attachments do not return.

Christ commanded us to be detached from the world; this is done through fasting. Because Christ fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, faith demands that we do likewise. And he who disregards this duty is guilty of negligence and arrogance because he violates a law divinely given for his salvation. 

Christ went hungry for our salvation and we cannot go hungry for our own salvation. So, the Jews were made to fast during their 40 years sojourn in the desert. Yes, God fed them with manna; but that was almost it -- manna and water. And those who took more manna than needed discovered that their manna had turned into worms.

To fast during the whole liturgical year is profitable. St. Benedict describes the life of a monk as a permanent Lenten  observance. But to fast during Quadragesima is obligatory. The former is voluntary, the latter is necessary. The first comes from free choice, the other from the law. To one we are  invited; to the other, we are obliged. Not to do the first is an imperfection; not to do the second is a sin.

Quadragesima, i.e., the 40 days of fasting during Lent, is liturgically living in the desert; a time wherein we ought not to think of worldly delights and bodily pleasures. Though we live in cities, we must dwell in the desert of our minds.

Christ fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He denied Himself of all worldly attachments. . .until all the attachments were gone. Of course, Christ had no attachments but then He was demonstrating to us how to fast. It is a sacrilege not to fast and abstain from your attachments.

Lent invites us to fast from sin, from indifferent things and even from good things. For fasting is the friend of virginity and the enemy of lasciviousness; while satiety is the friend of wantonness and the enemy of chastity. 

St. Maximus of Turin

 

 

 

 

 

(02-02-04)

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