Friday, February 27, 2009

Fasting During Lent Legalistic

Q: At church last Sunday the priest told us that we couldn’t eat on certain days during Lent. I was zoning out in the back and didn’t hear him explain why. This sounds legalistic to me. How can fasting help my spiritual life? It doesn’t make sense.

A: First of all, fasting is a good idea as it’s a good form of penance. That is, it’s a small way of showing that we’re sorry for our sins. During Lent, fasting is particularly important, as it’s a way of preparation for the great feast of Easter.

You’ll notice in the Bible that Moses, Elijah, the Apostles, and even Jesus fasted in preparation for big events. While we might not immediately understand the importance of fasting, it’s usually a good idea to follow the example of these guys, especially Jesus.

Is it “legalistic” to follow the instructions of your doctor when he tells you not to eat before a test? Would it be “legalistic” to follow the example of your favorite baseball player by imitating his technique? Of course not.

That’s why we fast before Easter; we’re following the example of Jesus and doing what He did to prepare for a big event. And Easter is certainly a big event!