“But our homily should be proceeding through the historical narrative, discussing in detail the antiquity of fasting. All the saints received fasting as a kind of paternal inheritance, observed it as such, and handed it on, father to child. And so, through a chain of succession, this asset has been preserved even for us.
In paradise there was no wine;
there were still no animal sacrifices,
still no eating of meat.
After the flood: wine; after the flood: [God said] eat everything, as you eat green plants. The enjoyment of meat was conceded only when the hope of perfection was lost.” (Saint Basil the Great, On Fasting and Feasts, p 59)
There were no barbecues or wine tasting in Paradise. No gourmet meals or vintage drinks. Lenten food is the food of Paradise. No wonder we have so little desire to be there! We really are in love with the fallen world and prefer to stay in it. Great Lent challenges us to embrace Paradise when we don’t want to let go of this world. Adam lamented the loss of Paradise, but if a return to Paradise means giving up what we love to consume in this world, will we abandon Paradise for this world? The Kingdom is often imaged in terms of a banquet, but we might wonder what kind of banquet can it be without beef, salmon or wine? Or do we love and value things of this world so much that we don’t want to give them up and will chose to love this world and its steaks, filets and goblets rather than live for the Kingdom of God?
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)