The Smile of Equal Width


I hope you all enjoyed a lovely Passion Week topped by a beautiful Resurrection Liturgy. It’s a lovely time for families too to get together in love and celebrate the Risen Lord , and the life He gave to each and every one of us.

This 50 Days after the Resurrection are sometimes misunderstood. Because the Church virtually bans fasting in this period, it is a natural reaction to take from that the message that this is a time for relaxing spiritually and taking things a bit easy. After the effort and ascetism of nearly two months of Lent, this is the time make up for it by enjoying the delights of various foods and … anything else you gave up in Lent? Surely I’ve given God enough to tide me over for a while now. He won’t mind if I take a bit of a break from Him…

But it really is about so much more than that, just as Lent is about so much more than just a change in your diet and eating patterns. This 50 Days is about living in the joy of Christ, the comforting, glorious presence of Christ.
He is not dead, He is risen!
He has not left us, He has returned to us!
He is not defeated, He is irreversibly victorious!

If you were blessed with grace from God through Lent, you might have been able to feel that what you ate really didn’t matter. After all, whatever you eat will still keep you going and reasonably healthy (junk food aside). And it didn’t matter because there are bigger fish to fry – imagine if your only goal in life was to make sure you ate the best foods. Pretty shallow?

It is, when you consider the other issues facing us in life. Issues such as justice and mercy, poverty and bereavement and death. Is food really all that important in the grand scale of things? Well, what changed on Saturday night? Did any of those really important things suddenly become less important? Just because steak and drumsticks, fattah and ice cream re-entered your life?

Of course not! In Lent, we gave up food so as not to distract ourselves with its attractions. In this 50 Days, we eat without restrictions so as not to distract ourselves by having to pay too much attention to what we eat. Both practices bestow their own unique benefits, and the person who is genuinely focused on the things that matter in life will, I think, appreciate those benefits and get the very most out of them both. And, with a smile of equal width in both seasons. 🙂

This is not a time to sit back and relax, but a time to use whatever resources God gives you at the moment to seek Him and to seek to do His will. That never changes, no matter what the season may be. The life with God, if it is that sort of life, is not one we need a holiday from. Sure, our physical bodies may only be able to cope with so much, but our spirits, if they truly love Him, cannot help but be constantly attracted towards Him without interruption.

That’s part of the beauty and truth of our blessed Orthodox Christian faith – it teaches us to see through the curtains of our earthly and physical limitations into the clear pure world of the spirit, where the light of God is always shining, beckoning, inviting us to come closer and enjoy its light and warmth.

Would you really postpone that for a few squares of chocolate?

Fr Ant

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