Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fasting Fattens the Soul

St Ephraim the Syrian, in his Homily on Our Lord, chapter 15, writes:
For it was not for the dainties of the Pharisees that our Lord hungered, but for the tears of the sinful woman He was an hungered. For when He was satisfied and refreshed by the tears for which He hungered, He turned and rebuked him who had bidden Him to the food that passes away, that He might show that it was not for the sake of food for the body that He had become a guest, but for the sake of help to the soul. For it was not for the sake of pleasure that our Lord mingled with gluttonous men and winebibbers, as the Pharisee supposed; but that in their food as mortals He might mingle for them His teaching as the medicine of life. For even as it was in the matter of eating that the Evil One gave his deadly counsel to Adam and his helpmeet, so in the matter of eating the Good Lord gave His life-giving counsel to the sons of Adam. For He was the fisherman Who came down to fish for the lives of the lost. He saw the publicans and harlots rushing into prodigality and drunkenness; and He hastened to spread His nets amongst their places of assembly, that He might capture them from food that fattens bodies, to fasting that fattens souls.
How the Lord subverts our expectations, using the occasions of sin to save us! Invited to a sumptuous banquet, He hungered only for tears of repentance; given rich food, He mixed into it the medicine of life, thereby making the source of Adam's sin a food for salvation. He indeed is the Fisherman who uses an earthly bate to pull us out of the depths, and who spreads dragnets into bars and brothels to capture sinners for Himself.

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