Preparation Verse: Matthew 5:48
48. Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Let’s think about the perfection that Jesus tells us about in Matthew 5:48
in the context of this Lenten season.
Have you ever wondered why some Christian religions have doctrines that have their members abstain from flesh foods on certain days?
The Roman Catholic Church had set about twenty five percent of all days aside as being meatless, for what appears to be for reasons of penance in the form of a partial fasting.
The Greek Orthodox Church had rules to prohibit eating flesh foods before celebrating communion for what appears to be reasons of purity.
When Mary’s mother found out that we were vegans, she was elated, because she considered us to be like the saints of old who never ate any flesh foods, and who therefore were always prepared to receive the sacrament of communion.
Why did these saints of old abstain from flesh foods, when it was before any of these church rules or doctrines?
What is it about flesh foods that have been singled out as something to be avoided in making us presentable before God?
For one thing, the eating of flesh foods is against God’s commandment in Genesis 1:29-31…
29. Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that
is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding
seed; it shall be food for you;
30. and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.
31. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
What was it that made this creation diet so very good?
It was because a plant food diet causes no pain, suffering, or death, and allows all sentient beings to live a peaceful Godly life, with soft hearts that are open to receive the unction of God’s Holy Spirit.
This brings us to the second reason we are to abstain from flesh foods.
In order to kill another living being, or even to cause them pain and suffering, to satisfy our own pleasure (which is what flesh foods are, because we don’t need them to live a healthy life), we must first harden our hearts to the feelings and desires of that individual animal who wants to live the life God created for them as much as we do.
And the more we do this, or allow or pay others to do it for us, the more we harden our hearts against the heavenly will of God.
These are some of the things that we strongly believe that both the Jewish and Christian saints of old recognized.
They recognized this because the killing and eating of animals was all part of the fallen world, and was never a part of God’s creation or heavenly will.
Let’s think about what Isaiah tells us about this in 11:6-10.
6. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
7. Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
9. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.
10. Then in that day
The nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples;
And His resting place will be glorious.
Isaiah gives us one reason why flesh foods should not be eaten in verse 9,
where he explains that the hurting and destroying of any life is caused by
the lack of knowledge of the Lord.
It doesn’t matter what a person says about their faith or belief; if they kill and/or eat any animals, they are not filled with the knowledge of the Lord.
And in verse 10, he says that the peoples of all the nations on earth will resort to the root of Jesse.
If we then follow the genealogy of Jesus in Luke chapter 3 through the line of David, we see that Jesse is the father of David, and as we continue down the list to verse 38, we see that Adam is the son of God, which make God the root of Jesse.
Isaiah recognized that we must leave the ways of this corrupted world and return to the perfection of God, who created us.
Let’s now take a look at a few of the early Christian saints, and some of the things that John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-407) wrote about in Homilies:
"The Saints are exceedingly loving and gentle to mankind, and even to brute
beasts ... surely we ought to show them (animals) great kindness and
gentleness for many reasons, but, above all, because they are of the same
origin as ourselves."
"…flesh-meats and wine serve as materials for sensuality, and are a source of danger, sorrow, and disease."
"We the Christian leaders practice abstinence from the flesh of animals to subdue our bodies…the unnatural eating of flesh-meat is of demonical origin…the eating of flesh is polluting."
John is directly saying that the eating of flesh foods in demonic, which is
the opposite of being Godly.
Basil, Bishop of Caesarea (A.D. 320-79), another of the Christian saints of old, wrote:
"The steam of meat darkens the light of the spirit. One can hardly have
virtue if one enjoys meat meals and feasts…
In the earthly paradise, there was no wine, no one sacrificed animals, and no one ate meat. Wine was only invented after the Deluge…
With simple living, well-being increases in the household, animals are in safety, there is no shedding of blood, nor putting animals to death. The knife of the cook is needless, for the table is spread only with the fruits that nature gives, and with them they are content."
St. Basil is also saying that the eating of animals is ungodly.
And Hieronymus (A.D. 331-420) ties this all together when he wrote:
"The consumption of animal flesh was unknown up until the Great Flood. But since the Great Flood, we have had the fibers and the stinking fluids of animal flesh stuffed into our mouths...Jesus, the Christ, who appeared when the time was fulfilled, again joined the end to the beginning, so that we are now no longer allowed to eat animal flesh."
So why is it that so many so-called Christians seem to be striving to live
in the ungodly ways of this fallen world?
To us the answer seems obvious: the Church is not telling the whole truth; they don’t want to rock the boat in which most Christians comfortably sit.
So they seek to eliminate flesh foods at certain times to appear to be holy; but how much better we would be if we strive to be holy all the time by eliminating the greatest impediment to our being truly holy: by stopping the exploitation of all animals, and in the process restore true peace on earth.
And in the process we would be a lot closer to being perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.