- Feasting is the beginning and the goal, but Adam could enjoy the full feast—truly enjoy it—only by first keeping the fast.
- Fasting is not gnostic. On the contrary, refusing to keep the fast is gnostic. Adam was the first gnostic.
- Impatience is always incipiently gnostic, because it assumes that nothing can be bettered by time. It is not gnostic to prefer roasted meat to raw. Fasting is not a renunciation of creation; rather, it celebrates and honors the goodness of that most basic and pervasive of all creatures: time.
- Little by little, piece by piece, waiting and not grasping, saving ahead of borrowing: That is Lenten economics.
- Sex is so pleasurable, so obsessively delightful, that we have to have our senses trained before we can handle it well. Abstinence is the fast that prepares us for the feast of marriage. Lenten sexuality honors creation by insisting we take time to get ready.
- Everywhere we turn, the world tells us not to keep the fast. Everywhere we turn, the world tempts us to be Adam. Our culture is devoted to stoking up our appetites and convincing us that we need to have it all, and to have it all yesterday. We are fooling ourselves if we think we don’t participate in that culture.
- Fasting looks like an enemy to life, but the opposite is true. We live abundantly only if we know how to fast—which is to say, only if we are disciplined to wait until the feast is ready.
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Jesus is the Last Adam because He keeps the fast. He enters a world that is no longer a garden, but a howling waste, and in that wilderness Satan tempts Him to break the fast, to be an Adam: “You’re hungry; eat this now. You deserve the accolades of the crowds; you can have it now if you jump off the temple. You want all authority in heaven and on earth, but your Father won’t give that to you unless you suffer an excruciating, shameful death; you can have it all now, no cross or self-denial required. It’s yours, and you only need to do a bit of bowing. Life, glory, power, everything you want, everything you deserve—you can have it all now.”
Jesus refused, and refused, and then refused again, and in so doing broke the power of Adamic sin. Jesus kept the fast; he waited, labored, suffered, died, and then opened his hand to receive all the life, glory, honor, authority, and dominion that his Father had to give Him. He kept the fast and as a result was admitted to the fullness of the kingdom’s feast—because by that time both it and he were ready. And by resisting the devil, Jesus sets the pattern of true fasting and reveals a Lenten way of life.