Times of fasting are communal events. So they usually have a beginning, and also an end when we change from fasting to feasting. Lent is preceded by Pancake Tuesday and finishes at Easter. The Muslim fast of Ramadan finishes with Eid, also a time for eating and celebrating together. Both fast and feast are celebrated with other people in ways that bring out the best in those who take part. In the four Cs, they are times of community, caring and celebration.
At Eid people gather together for prayer, offer hospitality as they eat together, and give generously to the poor. Eid ends the fast but continues happily the reconciliation with enemies and the generosity that are the themes of Ramadan. Eid is the first day of the rest of our lives, but of course the rest of our lives get shopsoiled. So next year will see another Ramadan another Eid.
This rhythm of fasting and feasting, focus and letting go, self-denial and shared indulgence is not simply a religious add-on to life. It says something about the deeper rhythms of all human life. It is about relationships: about the deferral of desire, deference to others and attentiveness that bless our lives with others. It is about the unselfish concern for others that expresses itself in hospitality and in shared celebration. It is about receiving our lives and the intractable difference of others as a gift. These are the qualities that bless our humanity. That is why they are the heart of Eid.
The celebration of Eid speaks powerfully to us at Jesuit Social Services. We are proud to count many Muslim Australians among the people we work with and among staff. We have shared in their generosity at Eid as elsewhere in our work together.
But the rhythm of fast and feast, of reflection and community, says much also about the lives of the vulnerable people we accompany. The story of their lives is often marked by enforced fasting – starved of affection, of care, of food and of opportunity. We hope that our companionship with them will give them hope of feast.
The feast will be a world in which they can build connections with others, can hope enough to postpone immediate gratification for values that matter more deeply to them, and can share the goodness that they are with others.
– Andy Hamilton SJ