In the verses before Sunday’s second reading, Paul talks about what foods are clean and what foods are unclean. In the light of the Gospel, Paul says that since God made all of it, it’s okay to eat all of it.
But then he turns right around and says that just because he can doesn’t mean he should. Paul knows that he’s free in Christ, but he doesn’t want the way that he lives that freedom to give offense.
Which sounds like Paul is worried about is what people will think.
But that’s not what Paul is talking about. Paul cares about everybody, but Paul isn’t trying to make everybody happy. Paul is balancing freedom in Christ with concern for misleading others by his example.
From personal experience, Paul knows how easily any of us can be misled. Which is why he would rather hold back. Not do everything he’s entitled to do.
Not because he cares about what people think.
But because he cares about people.
More on this tomorrow.