MORAL: The Duties of Christians 12, 1 -- 15, 13 (continued)
14, 1 -- 15, 13: This concluding exhortation
is a particular application of the precept of charity. It deals with the "weak" and the "strong." The "weak" were
a small group that abstained from meat, apparently drank no wine, and regarded certain days to be kept holy by not working,
by fasting, and by religious services. They considered this their conscientious duty, yet were so weak that they might
be led by the example of others to violate their convictions. Their "weakness in faith" was an unenlightened faith and
a poorly informed conscience. The "strong" were those who had no scruples in regard to food and drink, no prejudice
about certain days being more sacred than others. The "weak" were inclined to condemn the "strong"; the "strong" were
inclined to despise the "weak."
14, 1-11: Mutual
Forbearance. 1. Receive: to take to oneself with brotherly affection. Without
disputes, etc.: more probably "without passing judgment on their opinions." 2.
One believes: i.e., has the firm conviction. Let him eat: the Greek reads simply "eats."
3. God has received him: i.e., has admitted him to the Church without imposing on him these
restrictions. 4. Judgment belongs to our Lord. But he will stand:
implies an approval of the more liberal of these parties. 5. Let everyone be
convinced, etc.: what is important in this difference of opinions is that each should act with a certain conscience.
6. Each party acts in good faith, thinking by his actions to please the Lord. 7
f. The life of the true Christian, in all its activities, is dedicated to the Lord; the last act of his life,
his death, is no exception to the rule. 9. This is but following the purpose of the
Redemption. Cf. Phil. 2, 9 f. 10. Since we all belong to God, it is
His and not our place to exercise judgment. To Christ the Father has committed all judgment (John 5, 22).
Judgment seat of God: the Clementine Vulgate has "judgment seat of Christ." But there is no difference, since
Christ is God. Cf. "tribunal of Christ" in 2 Cor. 5, 10. 11. The
citation made freely from Isa. 45, 23 f deals rather with the universal sovereignty of God, but the sovereign is
the supreme judge.
14, 12-23: Charity and Peace.
12. For himself: and not for the actions of others. 13. Judge:
used in two senses: first, to condemn another's action; second, to decide upon a course of action. Stumbling-block
. . . hindrance: an occasion of another's falling into sin, here by making him do what is against his conscience.
14. This settles the matter in favor of the "strong." But to him who regards, etc.:
this is not subjectivism, but allows conscience its true place in the moral responsibility for an act. 15.
Grieved: perhaps the remorse of conscience for having done what he considers wrong. With your food:
one of the points on which the two parties differed. Charity requires that we sacrifice our freedom if its use leads
to the spiritual fall of another. 16. Our good: our freedom to eat.
17 f. There are more essential things to give us concern in the Kingdom of God, the Mystical
Body, pursuit of which both pleases God and wins the approval of men. 20. The
work of God: either the Christian community which is threatened with disruption by this controversy; or, more probably,
the "weak" party, "for whom Christ died" (v.15). 21. Is offended, etc.:
perhaps not mere synonyms, but progressive stages in scandal that leads to sin. 22.
Keep it, etc.: act according to your convictions unless that would give scandal; in that case do not act in the presence
of the "weak." Blessed, etc.: who does not condemn himself in action by what he approves in conscience.
23. Hesitates: acts with a doubtful conscience. Not from faith: not from a
conscience enlightened by the faith.
1* But him who is weak in faith, receive without disputes about opinions. 2 For one believes that he may eat all things;
but he who is weak, let him eat vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him
who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who art thou to judge another's servant? To his
own lord he stands or falls; but he will stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 For one esteems one day above another;
another esteems every day alike. Let everyone be convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards the day, regards
it for the Lord; and he who eats, eats for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God. And he who does not eat, abstains for
the Lord, and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself; 8 for if we live, we
live to the Lord, or if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
9 For to this end Christ died and rose again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 But thou,
why dost thou judge thy brother? Or thou, why dost thou despise thy brother? For we shall all stand at the judgment-seat
of God; 11* for it is written,
"As I live, says the Lord,
to me every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall give praise to God."
Charity and Peace 12 Therefore every one of us will render
an account for himself to God. 13 Therefore let us no longer judge one another, but rather judge this, that you should
not put a stumbling-block or a hindrance in your brother's way. 14 I know and am confident in the Lord Jesus that nothing
is of itself unclean; but to him who regards anything as unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 If, then, thy brother is
grieved because of thy food, no longer dost thou walk according to charity. Do not with thy food destroy him for whom
Christ died. 16 Let not, then, our good be reviled. 17 For the kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink,
but in justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; 18 for he who in this way serves Christ pleases God and is approved by
men. 19 Let us, then, follow after the things that make for peace, and let us safeguard the things that make for mutual
edification. 20* Do not for the sake of food destroy the work of God! All things indeed are clean; but a thing
is evil for the man who eats through scandal. 21 It is good not to eat meat and not to drink wine, nor to do anything
by which thy brother is offended or scandalized or weakened. 22* Thou hast faith. Keep it to thyself before God.
Blessed is he who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But he who hesitates, if he eats, is condemned, because
it is not from faith; for all that is not from faith is sin.
1: Weak in faith: those who had an
erroneous conscience concerning the implications of the Christian teaching, especially concerning certain foods. The
strong in faith are those who are better instructed and understand that no food is of itself unclean and forbidden.
St. Paul in this chapter exhorts the strong to bear with and refrain from scandalizing the weak, and the weak to refrain from
condemning the strong. Judgment is to be left to our Lord, before whose tribunal all men must appear.
11: Isa. 45, 23.
20: The sense seems to be: "A
man who, by eating, gives scandal." Others understand: "Who eats under the influence of scandal."
22: Faith: here means
conscience enlightened by faith.