Fr. Caesar D’Mello replies to this question, which is on top of everyone’s mind.
Q) Is it a sin to accept Prasad, which is offered to Gods of other faiths?
Facts: This problem arose in the city of Corinth in the first century of the C.E. The context was that Jews continued to offer lambs and bulls to other Gods. The animals were slaughtered and the meat was then sold in the market. Some Christians (formerly Jews) bought the meat and ate it without any qualms of conscience. But others felt it wasn’t proper to eat food that had been offered to other Gods. Paul faced this problem too. We find his answer in 1 Cor 8: 8-9 “Food, of course, cannot bring us in touch with God. We lose nothing if we refuse to eat and we gain nothing if we eat. Only be careful that you do not use this freedom in a way that proves a pitfall for the weak.”
Again in Romans 14: 3, Paul says “Meat-eaters must not despise the scrupulous. On the other hand the scrupulous must not condemn those who feel free to eat anything they choose, since God has welcomed them.”
In a different context, the scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus, why his disciples ate with unwashed hands. On that occasion, Jesus said (Matthew 15:11) “What goes into the mouth does not make a man unclean, it is what comes out of the mouth that make him unclean.”
Practicality In Modern Times: Living as we do in the midst of people of other faiths, often Hindus or Jains offer us prasad. Many Christians do not know whether to accept or refuse. Some accept the prasad and throw it into the garbage bin, while others eat it without any qualms of conscience. Last year in a meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, there was a discussion on inter-faith marriages. One of the questions put to the Cardinal was on whether we can eat food offered to us as prasad. Cardinal Oswald Gracias answered quite categorically that it is OK to eat food offered as prasad. He says that he sometimes eats the prasad, but avoids it as Paul says, if it would scandalise a person whose faith is weak.