‘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. Only food, that too selected food is sacrificed, while they persist with every other activity that denies them right to be labeled ‘followers of Christ’. 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. Some decide to consume only fish, doing away with other 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 fast 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 faith that originated more than 2000 years ago, who has had been ‘fasting’ probably since the faith’s birth, 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 in South India, 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 only been eyewash to hoodwink themselves . 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 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 such yoke,
- Setting free those who have been crushed under the load of injustice of all shapes and sizes,
- 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, not for just 40-50 days around Lent, but 365 days of the year that the Lord God asked from His people through the prophet Isaiah (chapter 58: 6-7), to observe such that the Christians’ own righteousness shall be their rearguard.