So then, it is the Lent season once again and you have promised to let go of something you most liked as a way of observing a period of fasting. You become therefore, a good Christian, or a believer of any faith if you subject yourself to a period of fasting and self-abnegation, shave your head, sit on a mat and observe as the world passes by, or rather the world observes you for a charlatan and a hypocrite that would draw the attention of others! And yet after the period of fasting is over, you return to the old ways, gorge yourself on the free-flowing wine, and the abundant meats, only to fall ill the next day of overeating and indigestion.
A few believers of the faith did attempt to emulate the forty day's fast but could not keep it up as they fell ill and had to be hospitalised. A pastor who attempted such a fast passed away, while another, foolhardy enough drowned while attempting to walk on water. Senseless and unthinking emulation of Christ's acts and the performance of his miracles without understanding the deeper meaning of the same can only lead to embarrassing failure!
Mere abstinence during the Lenten season, not consuming alcohol, not eating meat (Thanks to the shutting down of a few slaughter houses in some places) have no real significance unless they are accompanied by intense soul-searching, introspection and meditation on how to make one's self a better person, not for a period of forty days, but for the entire life. The Lenten season offers one he opportunity for cleansing one's soul of all that is negative, hurtful and bad. Cleanse yourself of all that is malicious, cleanse yourself of emotions of greed, jealousy, lust, gluttony, laziness, the use of foul language and all those things you regret about but could not stop. My pastor, the Revd. Sunil S. Ghazan, recently, at a prayer meeting talked about how the Lenten season should be viewed as an "annual audit" of the good and the bad within us and the occasion for "dusting away" all that is bad within us.
One of the chapters in the book of Mathew, chapter 6, in the New Testament talks very strongly against the hypocrisy of praying in public to show others how pious you are and giving huge donations to charity to show how generous you are. Unfortunately, it is these hypocrisies that defeat the very purpose of fasting to cleanse one's self spiritually. While Prayer, giving to charity, and fasting (Spiritual cleansing) are important elements of the Lenten Season, one cannot, however, ignore the need to maintain a sound demeanour towards others. The book of St. Mathew, chapter 6, underpins the need to maintain a pleasant appearance even while fasting: "When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair."