Wednesday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (NKJV)
1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him. 4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. 9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
Living out our Christian faith is more than just “knowing and following the rules.” Our sanctified life must consist of more than a checklist indicating “I’ve done this, I’ve avoided that.” We must ask ourselves: “Why have I done this? Why have I avoided that?” And it is not always sufficient to give the answer: “Because the Bible tells me so. It tells me what to do and not to do. And when I mess up, they’re called sins of omission and commission.”
We are called to remember the points of our Catechism more deeply than simply labeling sin. What is at the heart of the Commandments? Love. God’s Spirit and holy love enables you to reciprocate His love for you, and makes you want to love your neighbor, because God’s love can not help but spill out in all directions. Without love, we “do this” and “not that” out of constraint. We may look squeaky clean, like a good Pharisee, but we are motivated by the wrong reason without His love.
Motivation by love also carries our lives one step further. In actions that are neutral (adiaphora), we must also analyze those actions for their impact on our neighbor. We live public lives. We live in neighborhoods, we have workmates beside us, and schoolmates around us. With “love” as the proper motivation for our actions, today’s text makes greater sense. St. Paul says in verse 9: “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.” We must constantly be aware how our actions may be interpreted. Are we leading people to the faith, or discouraging them away from it ?
Prayer: Dear God, grant us the wisdom and awareness to live lives that encourage others to want to know more about the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Amen.