How intriguing that the lectionary for Lent 3 would be so rich with imagery of lavish eating and drinking! Not as paradoxical as it seems, however, if we ponder the reason behind abstinence and fasting: “O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1) We are almost in the middle of the wilderness, and our bodily hunger and thirst are instruments of a larger truth: that God is both the source of the food and drink we live on as well as our spiritual nourishment.
Jesus, interpreting the prophet Isaiah, teaches that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. He speaks not just of the physical provisions God lavishly pours forth by which our bodies are nourished, but of himself: He is the Living Word through whom our souls are nourished. It is through God only that we not only survive, but thrive.
Fasting and abstinence (and other spiritual practices) are not an end in themselves, but a means by which we may draw closer to Christ ‒ either by becoming more aware of our bodily needs and how deeply we rely on God – or by throwing off the distractions we use to avoid noticing our spiritual hunger. Deep in the wilderness of Lent, we may take a moment this week to re-assess or recommit to our Lenten practices.
How is it with your soul? Are you labouring for that which does not satisfy or are you discovering the rich food that is God? I pray that the loving right hand of God will hold you fast as you continue your Lenten journey this week.
Get the service booklet:Liturgy at Home Third Sunday in Lent March 20 2022