Those who enter this contest must renounce all things, despise all things, deride all things, and shake off all things, that they may lay a firm foundation. A good foundation of three layers and three pillars is innocence, fasting, and temperance. Let all babes in Christ begin with these virtues, taking as their model the natural babes. For you never find in them anything sly or deceitful. They have no insatiable appetite, no insatiable stomach, no body on fire, or raging like a beast; but perhaps as they grow, in proportion as they take more food, their natural passions also increase. (Step 1:10)

Today’s reading reminds us very much of yesterday’s reading again. In order to truly follow Christ, we are to despise all things earthly (see today’s Scripture verse). This does not mean that we actually hate the created world and our families, but rather our love for God is to be so great that our regard for all other things pales by comparison. “Laying aside all earthly cares” (from the Cherubic Hymn) is what gives us a firm foundation in Christ. Trying to build a spiritual life on anything but that would be building a house on sand.

St. John then urges us to build our foundation with innocence, fasting, and temperance, comparing the life we should lead with the life of young babies. Many of the Father’s will bring the focus, as does St. John in this reading, down to fasting. We are psychosomatic beings – we are made of a soul and a body, and the things that affect one will also affect the other. The food we eat, both its type and the quantity, will also affect our soul and the way the passions in us operate. This is why we typically fast from animal products and alcohol – animal products tend to stir up our passions, and alcohol tends to dull our attentiveness and make us more susceptible to temptation. One of the disciplines that we all need to embrace and practice is the fasting of the Church – the fasts are set forth to help us overcome our fallen humanity and to help us focus every more clearly on our Lord.

Scriptures verse for thought today – “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brother and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26-27