Lenten fast needs to change

By Dr. George Jacob

Kochi, March 20, 2019: ‘Christians’, the supposed followers of Christ are on a fasting spree, as it is Lent, around which time Christ’s crucifixion and subsequent resurrection are prayerfully observed.

It is common practice for them to put on sack cloth and confine themselves to ashes and observe ‘fast’ or 40-50 days, in all permutations and combinations.

The ‘fast’ is confined to just food. The most ‘religious’ among them keep away from all kinds of non-vegetarian diet, while the not-so-religious modify the dietary fast to selected diet of their choice. Some decide to consume only fish, doing away with other kinds of meat.

By observing this kind of ‘fast’, they conveniently choose to take the easy way out. It doesn’t take much to wallow in this kind of dietary ‘harakiri’. It’s no big deal to sacrifice a big Mac from McDonald’s for a cheese-stuffed vegetable club sandwich. Is it? And this is termed ‘fast’, while there are other more important things to do away with, and to observe fasting the way it is ideally meant to be.

Let us for a moment concede that not giving in to the enticement of the taste buds alone is all that it takes to ‘fast’ during Lent. Were it be so, Christians who, as a people belonging to a certain faith, that originated 2000 years ago, who has had been ‘fasting’ probably since all these years, would have been the most virtuous people to live on this planet-people who are epitome of goodness, and more importantly, Christ-likeness.

But the track record of ‘Christians’ have been deteriorating from abysmal to criminal. The clergy including bishops and priests rape nuns, involve themselves in pedophilia and homosexuality. Priests misuse confessional secrets to blackmail women for sexual favors. Nuns are raped, with the victims threatened with defrocking and excommunication from the order they belong to, should they complain.

The laity involve in inter-denomination skirmishes of the most distasteful kind that puts hardcore criminals to shame. Churches are rendered battlegrounds with the connivance and exhortation of bishops and priests, who ‘actively take part’ in rampant violence and reckless breaking of law of the land.Even the dead are not spared of the Church’s misdeeds.

Thanks to the constant and continuing violent skirmishes between the Jacobite and Orthodox factions of the Malankara Church in Kerala, the dead don’t stand a chance to have an incident-free burial, as priests of one warring faction are denied permission into the cemetery of the other faction to conduct funeral proceedings.

All these go to show that the ‘fast’ being followed down the ages has been in vain. It has categorically failed to contribute to the credibility, sanctity and piety that are supposed to pervade Christianity. Christians are laughing stock among people of other faiths, for they represent what they are not supposed to. Christianity as a faith has been rendered in vain, and a shame.

It would have done a great deal of good to Christianity and Christians, and indeed to Christ, had Christians decided to fast by:
• Loosening the fetters of injustice people are subjected to
• Untying the knots of the yoke people are called to bear
• Snapping every yoke placed on people
• Setting free those who have been crushed
• Sharing food with the hungry
• Taking the homeless poor into one’s house
• Clothing the naked
• Never evading one’s duty to one’s kinsfolk
This is the kind of fasting that the Lord God asked from His people through the prophet Isaiah (chapter 58: 6-7), such that the their own righteousness shall be their rearguard.

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