Today in the first reading, we hear Paul doing what many of us like to do – criticize. Paul criticizes his fellow Jews. He confronts them about the hardness of their hearts, about their rejection of the Messiah and the killing of the Messiah in their own hands. It was a difficult mission.
But Paul was driven into this criticism of his brother Jews, because of only one intention. He wanted them to discover the truth and to discover life. His criticism was an invitation to them to become better persons.
This is where we probably fail. Much of our criticism is not done out of love. Much of our criticism is borne out of our hardness of heart and selfishness. You see, it is very risky to criticize. It could be a health hazard. It could pose threats to our business. It could destroy beautiful friendships. Yet Paul was not afraid to destroy even his friendship with his fellow Jews because of a good ulterior motive – he wanted them to be converted.
Let us ask ourselves, “Why are we afraid to criticize?” Is it because we are afraid to risk our friendships, risk our businesses, risk our relationships? But dear brothers and sisters, it is only people who are friends who can criticize and be assured of understanding.
On the other side of the coin, we are also taught how to receive criticism. Many of us, when confronted with our limitations, block them out by saying, “I did not do that.” We can defensively counter, “Who gave you the right to criticize me? I have so many things against you also.” We can also rationalize, “Everybody is doing that. Why are you picking on me?” Or, “Be careful with your criticism because I know what you are doing,
But you see, brothers and sisters, part of evangelization is the humility to accept that we are not perfect; the humility to accept criticism, and yet, grow humbly from it.
If we are truly disciples of the Lord, two things are asked of us today. First, criticize with love, and in the process, lead others to conversion. Second, humbly accept criticism in the spirit of openness and love. We must be willing and ready to accept that something in us needs to be corrected, that we should change, we need healing and, finally, that we need people to remind us of this. We must learn to criticize with love. We must learn to accept criticism with humility.
CRITICIZE WITH LOVE
Jesus In My Heart