Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan
GREAT LENT: DAY 25
““Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge, those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.” 1 Corinthians 8:8-13
In today’s passage, Apostle Paul revisited that question asked by the church in Corinth as to whether eating the meat that was sacrificed to idols was permissible to eat or not. Those individuals who were mature in their faith understood that this act of eating did not have any spiritual significance. Nonetheless, the Apostle reminds them about the importance of their conscience. As for those who had been raised in their faith, the Apostle instructs them to be mindful of and forbearing towards those who may be weak in their faith, and reminds them not to be a cause for offense or shame.
During the Great Lent, many of us abstain from animal products and keep a vegan fast, others fast by salt and bread throughout the season, and others commit to a full fast. At times, the ones who observe the fast may judge those who do not. To such people, the Apostle offers this reminder: “Food will not bring us close to God.” Fasting is simply a means through which we discipline our will, and it should never be a source of pride or an occasion of judgment toward others.
The focus of the Christian life is love towards God and our neighbor. Hence, we ought to care for our brothers and sisters who may be weak in their faith, and in every instance, we should encourage them to live and grow in their faith and toward God. In this apostolic epistle, these verses are a direct answer to Cain’s questioning of God: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) The answer here is simple and powerful. “Yes, you are your brother’s keeper.”
Therefore, in our fasting, prayers, mercies, and good works, let our main force and motivator be love toward God and our brothers and sisters. As the Apostle John exhorts us, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we are to love one another” (1 John 3:11).