Saturday 19 July 2014

Thursday of Week 23 Year 2

Sometimes people come up to me and ask: "Is it ok to eat food offered to ancestors?" Some, especially if they come from a Taoist background may also ask: "What about food offered to a deity or an idol? Is it ok to eat such food?" St Paul in today's reading reminds us: "we know that idols do not really exist in the world and that there is no god but the One. And even if there were things called gods, either in the sky or on earth – where there certainly seem to be ‘gods’ and ‘lords’ in plenty – still for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things come and through whom we exist." What this basically means is for us Christians, we believe that there is no other gods but one God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ.

So, since Paul states that idols do not really exist in the world and there is one God, is it then ok to eat food offered to these idols? Here again Paul gives the answer: "Some people, however, do not have this knowledge. There are some who have been so long used to idols that they eat this food as though it really had been sacrificed to the idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled by it. In this way your knowledge could become the ruin of someone weak, of a brother for whom Christ died. By sinning in this way against your brothers, and injuring their weak consciences, it would be Christ against whom you sinned. That is why, since food can be the occasion of my brother’s downfall, I shall never eat meat again in case I am the cause of a brother’s downfall."

We know that the food being offered to an idol is not food being offered to a god, since we believe that there is no other god but one God. However, there are some who do not grasp this understanding or who are weak in their faith and they may be present with us. If we eat such food, we may be causing such persons who are weak in their faith to possibly become weaker or lose their faith altogether. So, given the circumstances, we should be mindful of who is with us when such food is served. Do we want to be the cause of a brother's downfall?

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