I also find comparative religion to be very helpful. Somehow the contrast between Jewish thought and Christian thought make my own faith extra clear to me. I also like reading the thoughts of Ancient Greek philosophers like Plato. I reread Plato's Allegory of the Cave recently and thought "Wow! So this is what St. John of the Cross was talking about!"
By accident, I found this website during morning prayer. I loved this paragraph:
"The Jewish idea of freedom is best summarized by that very famous expression-"Praise the servants of God who are not the servants of the Pharaoh." That is, freedom is seen as a means to an end, not an end in and of itself-True freedom means to be free of outside influences and pressures so that we can be free to pursue ultimate meaning-relationship with God."
I read this well reasoned paragraph and thought "Oh, so THAT is what we are doing in Lent!"
Lent is the movement from slavery to freedom. Lent means we wander in the desert for 40 days. We give up our taste for cucumbers and meat. (Like the complaining Hebrews in the wilderness). We train for spiritual battle, so that we can be more free to embrace the responsibility that accompanies our joy on Easter Day.
I am so thankful for the Jewish faith! My husband's last name and is family are Jewish. We're pretty sure that some direct ancestor was at Mount Sinai listening to Mr. Moses. In this time of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, all of us in the church have Moses and Elijah and St. John the Baptist urging us forward in our faith. Thinking about being a small part of a 5,000 year joint conversation with God, the Father Almighty is amazing. I hope that we all make leaps and bounds in our faith journey this year! May Easter find each one of us closer to becoming truly free!
Here is a quote from Socrates which is perfect for Lent!