The First Abstinence or Fast
The fact is this: Adam and Eve are created hungry beings. When they are hungry they will reach for fruit from one of the trees in the Garden cutting it off from its source of life (yes, there IS death before the Fall). Grateful for the beautiful food gift they give thanks to the LORD Who designed the fruit for the very pleasurable experience of eating. In this way food (and we might say all creation) is designed to be communion with God. We see in the world and food the gift the boundless love and care of the Immortal God our Creator.
God had given all the fruit bearing trees to Adam for food (Gen. 1:29). The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is a fruit bearing tree so we can safely say it too was given for food. However, the Lord placed a prohibition on the eating of its fruit because the tree was sacramental. What God would impart to mankind by means of this tree and its fruit the newly created Adam was not prepared to receive.
Alexander Schmemann, in his wonderful and short book For the Life of the World, observes that when Adam takes the fruit of that tree in his hands, he can not give thanks for it. He can not receive it as a love gift from God because it was, at this time, forbidden him. He can not enjoy it as a blessing from God. He can not enjoy fellowship with God in his eating the stolen fruit. He can only have fellowship with the dead fruit.
Schmemann then goes on to observe: It is not so much that Adam chooses creation instead of God but that he chooses creation without God. And this is the heart of what it means to be worldly – to live life and enjoy the gifts of Creation without God, to love the world for itself, to seek life in created things without regard for the Creator, to satisfy longing without acknowledging the One who is the fulfillment of all desire. Worldliness is the ungrateful abuse and misuse of the gifts of God.
The discipline of fasting helps us to recalibrate our relationship with food and with our desire. This can greatly affect our perspective of the world. We hunger for the food we choose not to eat. What we long for we willfully refuse. We remind ourselves that all hunger is ultimately a hunger for the Lord of Life. We must not be ruled by sheer appetite or have eyes for merely created things. We must rather be driven by our yearning to draw near to the true fulfillment of all need and desire, the Bread that came down from heaven, the One whose Body is true food and his Blood true drink, our Husband, Lord, and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Fasting reminds us of one great aspect of what Creation is meant to be, a love gift to the Bride. Our Bridegroom lavishes us with gifts to reveal His infinite love. He is always coming on to us.
May the Lord bless our fasting intentions this day,