Distinguishing Evil from Good

Great Lent

When it comes to Great Lent, while our attention is sometimes overly focused on fasting, we tend to forget that fasting is supposed to lead to righteousness, not just a diet. As we pause mid-week in this second week of Great Lent, to attend Presanctified Liturgy and receive Holy Communion, we are faced with a challenge of the Prophet Isaiah that God “shows Himself holy in righteousness.” What is righteousness have to do with fasting?

In this week’s effort to prepare to experience the energies of God, today during Presanctified Liturgy in your home parish, I invite you to consider the passage below from the Prophet Isaiah. “Who to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” In essence this urging from the Prophet is a caution not to ignore what is true. Think about this for a minute. If we get accustomed to accepting bitter as sweet and darkness and light, how will we know evil from good? How will we know the energies of God if we grow to enjoy the energies of evil?

The answer is found in fasting. When we fast, we learn to put God’s will ahead of our will. We learn to accept that pleasing our bodies is not the route to righteousness, but the route to selfishness. We learn that a full stomach leads to a sluggish life, rather than attentiveness. The urging of Prophet Isaiah today is to caution us to avoid the worldly priorities that over again have ended in slavery, poverty, and a host of moral decay. We can either choose our way or God’s way, and fasting helps us to learn the difference.

Like it or not, fasting is central in linking our bodies with our soul. Our soul needs our body to sin, and fasting trains our body to listen to the will of our soul, which desires to experience the energies of God.

But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture, fatlings and kids shall feed among the ruins. Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, who draw sin as with cart ropes, who say: “Let him make haste, let him speed his work that we may see it; let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near, and let it come, that we may know it!” Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and smote them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still. – Isaiah 5.16-25


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