“And bring the fatted calf… and let us eat and be merry.” – Luke 15:23
Brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Has one ever drank a cool glass of water after spending a long time outside on a hot day? Have we ever eaten a good meal after skipping one earlier in the day? How does a warm house feel after spending a long time in cold weather outside? How does it feel to drive our own car after it was kept in in the shop for a few days? The answer to all of the above questions is likely something very positive, for truly, being deprived of something we love allows us to appreciate it more when we have it.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), we read about how the son had squandered his inheritance to the point in which he was left with nothing, even sharing food with pigs. Upon coming home, the son’s father ordered his servants to bring his son the best robe, sandals for his feet, and finally, to “kill [the fatted calf], and let us eat and be merry.” Immediately, the prodigal son’s heart – and stomach- went from being empty to being full, because of the love of his gracious father! How satisfying might this feast have been, after he had been deprived of both food and his family for so long? It was a feast that was sweet, indeed, for both the loving father and his son, and without a doubt a feast of love made all the more great because of what had transpired in the family’s life.
The Church, in its wisdom, has always known that there is a very real impact to depriving oneself before a feast. Like the prodigal son and his father, we too deprive ourselves before the Feast of Feasts, great and Holy Pascha. After Great Lent and the practice of abstaining from certain foods before Pascha became commonplace for the early Christians in Jerusalem, this meaningful gesture was soon adopted as something that every Orthodox Christian did every year, for every feast! The Church immediately affirmed that when one fasts in order to feast, the celebration becomes that much greater and that much more sweet.
All the fasts of the Church find their true meaning when placed in the context of feasting. We practice this spiritual exercise in order to arrive at a celebration. Like the prodigal son, it is proper for us as children of our Creator to celebrate what He has done for us in music, dancing, praise and every other way in which the soul expresses joy. This Pascha, let us remember to take every opportunity to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection, and to continue celebrating! To the best of our abilities, let us continue to celebrate all week long for what the Lord has done and continues to do for us- invite family over, take our kids out to eat, perhaps take a trip as a family just for fun. Let us take full advantage of what the Church prescribes, both in the celebration of the feast itself, and the sacrifice we make leading up to it. In doing so, we will feel like the loving father who said, “let us eat and be merry.”
Wishing you and yours every blessing from above, and every joy from heaven as we prepare to celebrate the greatest of all feasts this month, the Lord’s Pascha.
Καλη Ανασταση! Blessed Resurrection!
With love in Christ,
Father Nikolaos Bekris