“Zacchaeus desired the ‘right thing’; he wanted to see and approach Christ. He is the first symbol of repentance, for repentance begins as the rediscovery of the deep nature of all desire; the desire for God and His righteousness, for the true life. Zacchaeus is ‘short’–petty, sinful and limited–yet his desire overcomes all this. It ‘forces’ Christ’s attention; it brings Christ to his home. Such, then, is the first announcement, the first invitation: ours is to desire that which is deepest and truest in ourselves, to acknowledge the thirst and hunger for the Absolute which is in us whether we know it or not, and which, when we deviate from it and turn our desires away, makes us indeed a ‘useless passion.’ And if we desire deeply enough, strongly enough, Christ will respond.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent (18)
Lent is about the priority of desire. Not about placing desire below other factors in my humanity, but about ensuring that I am desiring the right things, in the right proportion. Is my hunger for God first? If not (and it certainly fails us all), then perhaps I should willingly embrace a human hunger to remind myself of this first, great need. Lent, then, is about subverting my corrupted desires by choosing a patient suffering in order to set my spiritual house in order. In fasting I remind my body of the priority of God. He is First, let there be nothing in His sovereign place!