Once again, Jesus’ enemies find an occasion to criticize him. This time they criticize him because he and his disciples do not conform to the expected norm for someone who acts and preaches as Jesus does. The irony is that no matter what Jesus does, whether it be to teach in the synagogue or to heal the sick or to expel evil spirits, they will never acknowledge his good deeds. All they have time for is to find fault and to criticize.
St. Paul runs into much the same reaction from some of his fellow Christians. It was not unusual for a group of Jewish converts to come to one of the communities which had been founded by Paul after he had moved on. They would then criticize Paul’s teaching and try to undo all the good that he had done. In the First Letter to the Christians, St. Paul writes that it does not matter to him if he is criticized by his contemporaries. He knows that the Gospel that he preaches is the Gospel of Jesus. Consequently the only one who can criticize him is the Lord. He does not even criticize himself since he realizes that Jesus is acting through him. Just as he will not accept any of the credit, he also ignores any criticism.
There simply are some people in this world who cannot find a good thing to say about anyone else. They can always find fault. Like the Pharisees and scribes, they are afraid that if someone receives compliments for what they have accomplished, there might not be enough appreciation left over for them. At the root of their critical attitude is a sense of envy or jealousy that someone other than themselves should receive recognition for what they have done.
We unite ourselves with Jesus and St. Paul this morning and put aside any doubts we may have about our effectiveness. If we truly believe that God is acting through us and that all credit belongs to God, then we can also ignore any criticism and live in the knowledge that naysayers are simply unable to recognize God’s actions in our world.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator