Lent – Spiritual dieting!
Each New Year I pledge to commit myself to cutting back on the Christmas excess, begin a new dieting regime and get plenty of exercise. Despite my best efforts, by the end of January I seem to have found the last few bars of the Christmas selection box and wasted no time in polishing them off. There is something quite dispiriting about making great resolutions but then breaking them as quickly as they have been made. In many ways the season of Lent comes to re-inject the Spirit.
Many people take the forty days of Lent as an incentive to kick start their diet, to shed the Christmas pounds and look forward to a leaner, healthier self. In fact, in the Bible the period of forty days is symbolic of waiting, of purification, of the return to the Lord, of the knowledge that God keeps his promises. In the New Testament, before beginning his public ministry, Jesus withdraws into the wilderness for forty days, neither eating nor drinking Mt 4:2); his nourishment is the Word of God, which he uses as a weapon to triumph over the devil and temptation. The ancient practice of fasting, abstaining from certain food and drink can surely have tremendous benefits for a bulging waistline, but it has even greater benefits for the soul.
In these forty days of Lent that will bring us to the Resurrection at Easter, we can find fresh courage for accepting with patience and faith every situation of difficulty. Why not engage in the spiritual diet of Lent, cut back on those things which distract us from God and spend time getting to know and love him better. Take up the challenge to exercise your soul with some prayer, you will feel stronger and healthier as a result. When Easter comes at the end of the forty days you’ll be ready to celebrate the Risen Lord in body, soul and spirit. So this Lent, kick the habit, fight the flab and take up your little cross and follow Jesus – it’s the only diet that leads to eternal life!