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Deccan Herald » Panorama » Detailed Story
Fasting and feasting
By Fr Adolf Washington
A very gloomy looking young man approached British Physician Dr. John Abernathy (1764-1831) asking him a solution for his depression. Dr. Abernathy said "I would suggest you go and spend time with the great humourist Grimaldi, he will take away your depression with his humour"

After a moment of stunning silence, the young man looked at Dr. Abernathy and said

"I am Grimaldi".

Christians across the world enter into the season of lent. This is a season of intense fasting and prayer in preparation for Easter, but Jesus cautions the believer not to look gloomy. Jesus reminds us that Happiness is an inside job. It should stem from the conviction that the Saviour is with us. Lent is the best time to discover this happiness.

"When you fast, do not look gloomy as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:16-18)

A true Christian will not only be happy within himself but will also spread happiness wherever he goes. He is one who has discovered inner happiness in knowing Jesus in a personal way. When John the Baptist's disciples questioned why Jesus disciples did not fast, he answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is still with them?" (Matthew 9:14).

Jesus is symbolized as the Bridegroom. From the Christian perspective, we are reminded that Jesus is with us and so we need to rejoice at all times.The season of Lent is no doubt a time to fast and pray, but if this fasting and praying is not coupled with a revealing joy on our faces, we would be contradicting Jesus' teaching. Our fasting, prayer and penance must serve to remind us more strongly that the "bridegroom" is with us and the great celebration with the Bridegroom is on Easter Sunday.

Our Lenten joy must be contagious. It must spread. It must bring light into the lives of those in darkness. For this reason, the Church urges believers to engage in acts of love and charity. We must fast not from foods alone (because this is the easiest thing to do), but also from words than tend to hurt or assault the dignity of others. We must fast from evil and revengeful thinking. We must fast from jealousy, anger, hatred and pride. In this way, greater love would flow between spouses, between parents and children, between neighbours and between office colleagues, between superiors and subordinates. The true spirit of Lenten fasts must engage us in restoring broken relationships, breaking the silence of doubt between each other and affirming one another with a genuine love.

Feasting at Easter will find its meaning only when the fasting is proper. The season of Lent should be a joyful walk towards the wedding banquet.
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