Saturday, February 18, 2017

Always Be Aware

One of the great gifts of fasting is the training you receive when you are vigilant. Since the first days of the Church we have been asked to fast every (with a few exceptions) Wednesday and Friday. The only way to successfully pull this twice-a-week fast off, we must always be aware of what day it is? Is it Tuesday, then pepperoni pizza it is! Is it Friday, then PB&J for lunch! You might think the Church is asking us to worry too much about the calendar, but I suggest you are denying the added benefit of learning to be vigilant. Take a moment and ready today’s Gospel Reading:
Luke 21:8-9,25-27,33-36 (RSV) - The Lord said, "Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he!' and, 'The time is at hand!'  Do not go after them.  And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified; for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once.  And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.  But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man."
This reading about learning to be vigilant and that God will bless such vigilance in our spiritual life. Fasting twice a week helps to teach this vigilance if we choose to embrace it. It is when we are conscious about our surroundings, then we can remember whether the calendar says Monday or Friday. Once we have learned to be aware, it becomes much easier to keep watch for the false teachers and antichrists that will continually work to distract us from God.

With the Great Fast approaching and tomorrow being the “last day” until Pascha that we will each meat, I invite you to view the coming weeks of fasting not as self-denial or just a spiritual diet, but “vigilance training” for your soul. The false teachers have been told to us by God Himself. They will and have come to lead you astray. “Take heed that you are not led astray!” Always be aware of your surroundings!

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