As a catholic, can i take part in a puja and eat the prasad offered? Saturday, 23rd week in ordinary time – 1 Corinthians 10:14-22

When you compare chapter 8 and chapter 10 of St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians you might wrongly arrive at the conclusion that Paul is contradicting himself. Paul clearly states that that he does not recognize the power of any idol; in his words, “no idol in the world exists and there is no God but one.” (8:4) What Paul is simply stating is that no idol has any power before the worship of the one true God. Hence in this context he says, eating food offered to idols (so called gods – verse5) makes no difference. “Food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat and not better off if we do (8:8) Yet he is emphatic that most Christians may not have the ability to grasp this understanding. Remember, Paul is speaking to the Corinthians, many of who were recent converts from paganism. Hence, so as to not cause scandal and cause other Christians to stumble and think its ok to eat food offered to idols, Paul says it is best not to eat such food.

Today’s text will take this explanation one step ahead. Paul begins in 10: 13 to explain that all of us are tested. We may think our testing is unique and special but temptation is a common human experience. Yet each one is tested according to their spiritual growth and God won’t let you be tested beyond your ability of endurance; if so, Satan would destroy us the minute God would allow us to be tested beyond our capability of endurance. To help us deal with these earthly temptations, God provides a way of escape when faced with such temptations. He provides the way; he does not force us to use the way! Therefore, we have the choice to say no to sin and take the way of escape that God gives us. To be tempted is not sin, but to surrender to temptation is sin.

In this context Paul once again goes back to what he began to teach in chapter 8 and begins with the words, “therefore…”(verse 14). Paul is now talking of how God provides a way for us to resist the temptation to cause scandal to others by eating meat offered to idols.

Clearly, Paul does prohibit the consumption of meat that is sold in the market that may even be offered to idols or eat food from the market that may have had a prayer of thanksgiving said before the food was cooked or sold (10:25). Neither is a Christian prohibited from eating food in the home of an unbeliever (person of another faith). In fact, Paul says in 10:27, if you are “disposed” to go to such a home “eat what is set before you without raising any questions on the grounds of conscience.”(10:27). BUT If you go to a non-believers house, and you are told (or you are aware) that what is set before you or given to you is offered in sacrifice to the idols then you are not to eat it. In short if you participate in a religious ceremony and are offered the same food offered to the idol at the ceremony, you are not to eat that food. (10:28).But if you simply go to the home of a non-believer, you may eat what is set before you. Note there are two elements here that are mandatory; I take part in the religious ceremony and I am offered the same sacrificial food offered in that ceremony, then I am not to consume it.

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