For the Glory of God

Imitate me as I do Christ

  • The passage from 1 Corinthians refers to a concern the early Christians had about eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols.
  • Paul makes the point that our behavior toward others is more important than what we eat or drink.
  • Paul’s advice is to avoid offending one another at all costs.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor
Fr. Clement Thibodeau

SECOND READING — 1 Corinthians brings to a close a long section on the relationship between personal freedom and communal responsibility. In the end, for Christians, the governing principle needs to be whatever leads to the glory of God. There can be no barriers to the Gospel. Our personal advantages must be subordinated to the needs that others have for salvation. “We are nothing,” Paul would say. “Christ is everything!”

SOURCE: © 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.
Fr. Eamon Tobin

SECOND READINGThis reading concludes Paul’s teaching on whether it is lawful for Christians to eat food of the meat of animals that had been offered to idols in pagan sacrifices.

Paul sees no problem in eating such food since Christians do not believe in idols. Therefore, the food is not unclean. However, Paul is exhorting the stronger members of this community to be sensitive to the weaker members (or less formed members) to abstain from such food if it might cause a scandal to new members who may still believe that eating such food is a form of idolatry. Paul is encouraging the more formed members of the community to sacrifice some of their freedom for the glory of God. “Whatever you do … do for the glory of God.”

When Paul says he seeks “to please everyone in every way,” he does not mean that he is giving up his principles in order to be a ‘crowd pleaser,’ but rather sacrificing his freedom in order to make the Gospelattractive to those he is seeking to evangelize.

SOURCE: ©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.
Sr. Mary McGlone

SECOND READINGIn this section of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul is trying to deal with questions of freedom and scandal. While he believes that the Christian is free from the law and can eat anything, including food that has been sacrificed to idols, he is concerned for the people who would be shocked by such behavior. In trying to find a way to tell his companions that they are free to do anything except offend others, he comes up with a solution that offers food for meditation about everything in life, not just about what one buys at the market or puts on the table.

“Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” By saying that, Paul is calling his community to a constant imitation of Christ. Everything they do should proclaim God’s goodness to the world. Even more, everything they do should be a sign of the sort of glory Jesus manifested. That was not the glory of the empire or even the philosophers, but the glory of the one who could give up everything for love of humanity (Philippians 2). To give glory to God is to live by a standard of self-giving love.

Paul’s advice about the specific situation that led him to make this statement is a perfect example of what he means. While people are free to eat or drink anything, their concern for others overrides any exercise of freedom; God is glorified in love not license. That, of course, does not mean they should never offend. Paul himself has risked lots of offense in the course of this letter, but that, too, was for the glory of God because he was insisting that his people be true to who they were called to be.

Paul’s call to do everything we do for the glory of God is a far more demanding standard than any set of laws. The Ignatian examen of consciousness encourages people to look back on their day and recognize where they met God, where they responded well and where they did not. Paul’s injunction might be seen as more proactive. Instead of reviewing our actions, Paul suggests that we cultivate the awareness that we can make every decision about what we do based on the standard of what gives greater glory to God. This is an ongoing orientation to life that goes further than honesty or hard-working effort. It suggests that there are many goods from which to choose and our decisions should be made in terms of what action will be the most revealing of Christ’s self-emptying love.

SOURCE: ©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentary Excerpts

Theology of Work Commentary

God’s Glory is the Ultimate Goal (1 Corinthians 10)

SECOND READING— In the course of an extended argument beginning in chapter 8 on an issue of critical importance to believers in Corinth—the propriety of eating meat that had previously been offered to idols—Paul articulates a broad principle concerning the use of the earth’s resources. He says, quoting Psalm 24:1, “The earth and its fullness are the Lord’s” (1 Cor. 10:26). That is, because everything comes from God, any food may be eaten irrespective of its previous use for pagan cultic purposes. (In a Roman city, much of the meat sold in the market would have been offered to idols in the course of its preparation.[1]) There are two aspects of this principle that apply to work.

First, we may extend Paul’s logic to conclude that believers may use all that the earth produces, including food, clothing, manufactured goods, and energy. However, Paul sets a sharp limit to this use. If our use harms another person, then we should refrain. If the context of a dinner party at which meat offered to idols is the issue, then another person’s conscience may be the reason we need to refrain from eating it. If the context is worker safety, resource scarcity, or environmental degrada­tion, then the well-being of today’s workers, the access to resources by today’s poor, and the living conditions of tomorrow’s population may be the reasons we refrain from consuming certain items. Since God is the owner of the earth and its fullness, the use we make of the earth must be in line with his purposes.

Second, we are expected to engage in commerce with nonbelievers, as we have already seen from 1 Corinthians 5:9–10. If Christians were buying meat only from Christian butchers, or even from Jews, then of course there would have been no reason to worry whether it had been of­fered to idols. But Paul asserts that believers are to engage in commerce with society at large. (The concerns in chapter 8 also assume that Chris­tians will engage in social relationships with nonbelievers, although that is not our topic here.) Christians are not called to withdraw from society but to engage society, including society’s places of work. As noted earlier, Paul discusses the limits to this engagement in 2 Corinthians 6:14–18 (see “Working with Nonbelievers” in 2 Corinthians).

“Therefore, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do ev­erything for the glory of God,” says Paul (1 Cor. 10:31). This verse by no means legitimates every conceivable activity. It should not be construed to mean that absolutely anything could be done in a way that brings glory to God. Paul’s point is that we have to discern whether our actions—including work—are consistent with God’s purposes in the world. The criterion is not whether we associate with nonbelievers, whether we use materials that could be used for ill by others, whether we deal with people who are not friends with God, but whether the work we do contributes to God’s purposes. If so, then whatever we do will indeed be done for the glory of God.

The upshot is that all vocations that add genuine value to God’s cre­ated world in a way that benefits humanity are true callings that bring God glory. The farmer and grocery clerk, the manufacturer and the emis­sions regulator, the parent and the teacher, the voter and the governor can enjoy the satisfaction of serving in God’s plan for his creation.

SOURCE: © 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)
Life Recovery Bible

Achieving freedom

9:15-18 Paul gave up his right to be paid for his work in the ministry, choosing instead to support himself. The point wasn’t whether or not he should have been paid. He was illustrating the principle that when God has called us to do something, we may have to give up some of our rights and freedoms to accomplish it. If we hope to progress in recovery, our relationship with Jesus Christ and adherence to his program need to take the central place in our life. We may need to give up some of our possessions, activities, and codependent relationships to achieve the freedom that we long for.

Sharing the Good News

9:19-23 An essential part of recovery is sharing the Good News of God’s forgiveness and help. Paul shows us that if we want to communicate to others, we must first take the time to understand where they are coming from. Paul listened to his audience and found common ground with them before he helped them change. As we seek to help others, we begin by gaining their confidence. We don’t need to be good at winning arguments; we need to be good at listening and showing that we care. Paul listened to the needs of people and then presented his message in a way that met their specific needs. We can do the same as we carry the message of hope to hurting people.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Second Reading

  • No exegesis for this week on the second reading.
SOURCE: Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

For the glory of God

by Michal Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us that every Christian is morally responsible for his actions and the negative or positive influence his actions might have on others. All human efforts should give glory to God by living “in imitation of Christ.” In this way, others who view your life as sanctified to God may be encouraged to follow your example, which could lead them to a relationship with Christ and their eternal salvation.

Our actions matter

Every Christian is morally responsible for his actions and the negative or positive influence his actions might have on others. It is the right use of Christian freedom expressed first negatively (1 Cor 10:32), and then positively, as exemplified in Paul’s life (1 Cor 10:33), and finally as grounded in Christ (1 Cor 11:1). All actions should give glory to God by living “in imitation of Christ.” In this way, others who view your life as sanctified to God may be encouraged to follow your example, leading them to conversion and eternal salvation.

St. Basil the Great

Such small actions as wearing a cross or offering a prayer before meals in a public place give a witness to others of your faith in Christ Jesus. St. Basil the Great (c. 330/357-379), bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia, Asia Minor, commented on this passage from 1 Corinthians by writing:

“When you sit down to eat bread, do so, thanking him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank him for his kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore him, who in his wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise the Creator” (Hom. in Julittam, martyrem).

SOURCE: Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission.


For the Glory of God

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • The apostle is exhorting the church of Corinth to build bridges among themselves. This new (local) church must have more sensitivity toward those who make it up. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the (universal) church of God.
  • He gives them his own example to follow in that respect. Just as I donot seeking my own benefit but that of the many.
  • The need for this message in our multicultural church has only been heightened, and I will make that clear by the direct way I announce it. The motive has nothing to do with “getting along,” but with being true to Christ.

Key elements

  • Climax: The often quoted lines at the very end. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
  • The message for our assembly: Everyone is called to service in the church. Do we seek ourselves or do we look to the needs of others?
  • I will challenge myself: To reflect faithfully the man Paul who offered his own life among the people as an example. A few of us might be able to say that with dramatic conviction. But do our lives measure up?
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org
Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

In pagan Corinth, many people sacrificed food and drink to their gods. The idols didn’t eat it, and their priests resold some of it as groceries. Christians wondered if they could eat such food. Saint Paul gives a wise answer in a broader context.

Oral Proclamation

The Historical Background: Corinth was a Greek seaport. The combination of sailors’ morals, Greek philosophy, and religious ideas shipped in from all around made for a potent brew. Categories hadn’t begun to harden into simple “Protestant, Catholic and Jew.” Saint Paul worked to help the nascent Christian community find the truths that would keep it distinct from its pagan neighbors (see above).

So questions came up that, from our distant vantage point, seem bizarre. One such question was, “Is it OK for us to eat foods that have been previously used in pagan worship rituals?” Apparently the thrifty pagans sold or took home what the gods did not consume; a Christian could find himself shopping in a market or invited to a home where such goods were offered. In prior verses Paul has told them of course they cannot participate in pagan worship, but of course they can later buy or eat such food “without raising any question of conscience.” But if someone objects “That food has been offered to idols,” the Christian is to refrain, not because the idols mean anything, but in order not to scandalize the other person.

Then he sums it up, “All things are lawful, but not all are advantageous” (verse 23), and, in our selection, “whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. Give no offense to Jew or Greek or the church of God.”

Proclaiming It: Read this slowly and with authority, as if you were summing up the preceding teaching (which is what the author was doing). Now you know the subtleties behind the words. Speak them with the conviction that comes from that understanding.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org


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Dr. Brant Pitre

In the first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul speaks of how Jewish Christians and pagan Christians are to act when at the dinner table. Due to the chasm between the two cultures, St. Paul needed to clarify how and if they were to consume certain foods offered to idols at the market.

SOURCE: The Mass Readings Explained


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