Christ’s Temptations in the Wilderness
Entering the second week of Lent, have you noticed temptations increasing … ?
“Fasting means I don’t eat, it is voluntary hunger. Therefore, to fast as an Orthodox during Great Lent is to drive ourselves into a marginal situation in which we feel the demands of the body, but the power of the soul masters it.
This marginal situation is expedient to the tempter to betray us with the most powerful temptations. He does not have power over the struggling fasting Christian, but the Christian is lured by the weaknesses of the body, which the tempter believes he can exploit. This happened with Christ.
The Evangelist Matthew writes: “Christ fasted forty days and forty nights and then was hungry. And the tempter came to Him saying….” The tempter came to Christ when He was hungry. Thus, hunger attracts him, but hunger is eventually what defeats him, when, of course, satisfaction is sought in the reasonable food of the soul – the words that proceed from the mouth of God – and not one-dimensionally from the unreasonable nourishment of the body.
Gluttony, Vatopaidi icon
We must not, therefore, be surprised if during the fasting period of Great Lent diverse temptations occur, whether they relate to our personal, family or social life. At this time the tempter “approaches” Christians. He does this through many “internal” ways, but also with noisy external events, which correspond to internal impassioned thoughts, and tries to make our struggle during Great Lent worthless. But if we are sober, all these things will cause our spiritual maturation, paths for deeper self-knowledge and the knowledge of God.”
Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, “Η νηστεία και ο πειρασμός”, March 1999.
By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Vamvinis
Source: Mystagogy— Transl by John Sanidopoulos.
Fasting, Appetite and Hunger
Fr. Alexander Schmemann, in trying to put Christian fasting into perspective, in his book Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, writes:
Ultimately, to fast means only one thing: to be hungry – to go the limit of that human condition which depends entirely on food and, being hungry, to discover that this dependency is not the whole truth about man, that hunger itself is first of all a spiritual state that is in its last reality hunger for God.