Lent is rooted in the Christian tradition. Removing it from that tradition or secularizing it ( e.g. making it a time of giving up chocolate) trivializes this ancient practice. Jesus temptation in the wilderness is a template for those who follow him. For the Christian, in words of R. Culpepper this is a time to:
Resist the temptation to forget one’s baptismal identity.
Remain faithful rather than being successful or striving for power.
Resist being “dazzled” by the wealth of the world.
Lent is a tiime of real sacrifice. And in the 21st century there are real sacrifices that Christians need to make:
- Hateful speech and dialogue, especially on social media.
- The “need” to be right . . . or thinking one’s ideology or theology is the “correct” way.
- Patriarchy . . .all forms.
- Participation in, tacitly or willingly, systemic racism
- Xenophobia towards the “other.”
- Supporting political and economic systems that crush the poor.
- Bible worship . . . it’s a collection of many books covering many centuries- not a singular text that is without error.
- Fundamentalism. It is dangerous and, as we know through history often leads to violence.
These are unpopular for sure. But there are very few systems of the 21st century, if any, in which Jesus would participate. The Gospel is political as much as it is spiritual. If it were not Jesus would not have been executed by politicians on a cross.
Eat the chocolate and drink the wine- it’s what Jesus would want I think. Instead, be faithful. Engage in acts of love, mercy, and compassion: the weightier things of “the law”.