Christ has risen. Easter has come. We have celebrated with church and feasting and games. Those of us who fasted have finished and are happily returning to our regular meals, and those other relishes that remind us of the bounty of the lives we have been given by God. As we return to normal time, it’s tempting to give up a meditative spirit as easily as we give up the privation which fostered it. Though we gladly leave behind a long dark 40 days for a renewed sense of Christ’s triumph, let us not forget the good of the fasting which whetted our appetite for the feast day.
One of the greatest gifts of Lenten fasting is that it intimately acquaints us with our limitations. I failed each one of my fasts repeatedly throughout Lent. Though I can only speak for myself, I doubt I was the only one who fell short of my own low bar. Such failure harkens back to failed New Years resolutions. Lent can make us give up trying to give up anything altogether. Lent can be another experience of inadequacy or failure. And, in a way, it’s meant to be.
The 40 days of Lent are reminiscent not only of Christ’s testing, but of Israel’s – not only of Christ’s shining moral triumph, but of the wandering tribes’ repeating moral failings. My Lenten experience was far closer to that of the faithless children of Israel than to that of the victorious Son of God, and this echo is not accidental. Where Israel failed, Christ was triumphant. Where we fall, he still stands. Lent confronts those of us who fail its rigors with our pervasive weakness, our inveterate inability to deny ourselves, to take up our cross. But even these confrontations with our own failure fit us to turn to him who denied himself unto death, even death on a cross.
Easter has come. We give up our mourning and turn to feasting. Where we fail, he has won. Where we succumb, he has overcome. Where we repeatedly fall, he has risen indeed. Glory be to God. ‘