The Lenten season is based upon the 40 days of Jesus’ wandering in the wilderness followed by the temptations he endured directly from Satan. His fasting, and isolation were a form of disengagement from the world.
Fasting is a discipline, which stands on the border of our desires and our needs. Almost everyone in an affluent society eats more than they need. We eat when we want, or when we feel the hunger pangs of desire, not when our bodies tell us to eat for the sake of health or survival. Fasting challenges this strong desire.
When Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness, He walked the line between His desires, which He ignored, and His needs. He walked up to the edge of His needs, and peered into the abyss of extreme hunger. Fasting abides in a strange location. It plays with the edges of both desire and death, and is a challenge to the power structures of this world.
The world uses our needs and our desires to set the hooks of advertising, corporate greed, and governmental control deep inside of us. Whether capitalistic America, or the Stalinist Soviet Union the places of capturing the human heart, soul, and body are the same. The brilliance of the Lenten season is the subversive overturn of this attempt to capture us with the hooks of the world system’s power.
The simple version of the complex theory I just expounded is this: We only learn to overcome the temptations of this world, when we learn to overcome ourselves first. When we learn to do that, we are free. The lesson behind Lent is that simple lesson, but even the simple lesson is based upon a brilliantly deep theory.
photo by Hope Deifell