XIV SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. Reflection of the Word of God.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account,”
Jesus taught us that in his famous Sermon on the Mount. And he should know, because Jesus faced precisely this kind of treatment at his debut in Nazareth. Folks didn’t simply disapprove of his teaching. They questioned his credentials and even his paternity (being called “the son of Mary” was irregular in a land where your father’s lineage was paramount). In fact, the opposition got rather physical, if you include nearly being hurled off a cliff at the end of the lesson.
When we are criticized, rightly or wrongly, it rarely feels like a blessing. Even persecution for righteousness’ sake—a very specific kind of rejection—is not something most of us are anxious to achieve. We want approval, not condemnation. We seek support and encouragement, a pat on the back, and even a reward when possible. As children a cookie would do. Later on, for a teenager, the keys to the car would be better. In adulthood we’re usually looking for more monetary rewards. What we really don’t expect or desire, when we say or do the right thing, is to be defamed for it.
Criticism keeps us humble, provides the opportunity for an examination of conscience, exercises our sense of humor, and reminds me that the good I do isn’t about me; it’s meant to glorify God.