HOMILY THEME: Dealing with Criticism

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu


HOMILY: (Read 1st Timothy 3:14-16, Ps.111 and Luke 7:31-35)
“We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep” (Luke 7:32).
The last thing anyone would ever succeed in doing is to please everybody. No matter how hard you try, there will always be a loophole or error in what you do. And there will always be people to criticize you; some fair, some harsh, some unbearable and some, unfounded. As one musician said: “If no one is talking about you, then you are nobody.”

Just hear what Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage: “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? … For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ (Luke 7:31-34)

Are you worried about what people are saying about you behind your back? Do you feel affected by the names people call you? Are you constantly thinking of how to make people think good of you? Then stop it today. As much as there is some degree of truth in what anyone might be saying about you (positively or negatively), the fact that they are not able to say it to your face means that it is not worth being worried about.

One thing is sure. If only we try to please God as much as we often waste time trying to please people, our lives would be much better. We should be more concerned about what God thinks of us than what any human being thinks about us. This way, we would easily wipe out hypocrisy from our lives.

Jesus faced a lot of criticism in the course of His three-year-ministry. Jesus was called by all kinds of names such as “Belzebub”. Jesus even had a bunch of religious leaders, scribes and Pharisees who followed Him every step of the way to find one or two things to use against Him. When dealing with criticism, we have a lot to learn from the calm disposition of Jesus who did not allow what His critics were saying weigh Him down or prevent Him from carrying on the mission.

Jesus makes a statement in our Gospel passage today that should serve as food for thought for us. “Wisdom is justified by all her children,” meaning wisdom speaks for itself. I do not need to shout at the top of a high mountain that “I am wise” or that “I am this or that.” My actions, the fruits of my deeds will speak out my wisdom. Let people run their mouths, don’t disturb yourself, just allow your success to speak for you, and they will close their mouths.

On the other hand, let us try to examine ourselves before we begin to criticise others. Once upon a time, a footballer wrote on his twitter handle: “Those who know do not criticize and those who criticize do not know.” In other words, the reason why we are so quick to criticize is that we do not all the facts at hand. There is always more to what meets the eye. When you know, you might not be too passionate about criticising anyone.

There is something much better and higher than outright criticism; it is called mentorship. This is what we see play out in today’s first reading. St. Paul did not wait for things to get wrong and start pointing fingers, he groomed Timothy into a great soldier of Christ. Writing to Timothy, Paul noted: “I am writing these instructions to you so that…you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God” (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

No human being is perfect, that is why we all need teachers, mentors or guides. As Paul was a guide to the young Bishop, we are called to mentor others rather than criticize or gossip them behind their back. Before pointing fingers at anyone, ask yourself: “What have I done positively that could have prevented this person or that person from behaving like this?”

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to strive to please You alone and not the people around me, Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Wednesday of the 24th week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1st Timothy 3:14-16, Ps.111 and Luke 7:31-35)

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