Thursday, 28th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

Have you ever noticed how unpopular the  prophets are? That’s because it’s usually the prophet’s job to point out peoples’ sins to them and to tell them they have to change. Some people, particularly the arrogant and the wicked, respond very badly to this, like the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel.  When Jesus left the home of the Pharisee, after having criticized them strongly but in private, they

“began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.”

These scribes and Pharisees, whose fathers had hated and killed the prophets of old, would go on to bring all that blood upon themselves by killing the Wisdom of the prophets Himself.

The question I would like you to consider today is how you respond to criticism or correction directed at you.

The book of Proverbs teaches,

“Reprove not an arrogant man, lest he hate you; [but] reprove a wise man, and he will love you.”

And a translation of Psalm 141 says,

“If a good man strikes or reproves me it is kindness.”

 A wise man does not respond to correction angrily. He knows that “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God,” so he is not threatened by the suggestion that he is not perfect yet, that he still has areas for improvement.

The wise man evaluates correction with detachment. If the criticism is valid, or at least well intended, he receives it as a loving act and is grateful for it. And when the criticism is nonsense, the wise man doesn’t let it get to him. Why should the ungrounded opinions of foolish, fickle people have power over us, to rile us up, or provoke us to the sin of personal hatred?

Let us ask Jesus for the grace to receive valid criticism with humility, and for the grace to be merciful with those who criticize us unjustly.

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