20th Sunday of the Year (C) 2019

The Prophet Jeremiah spoke truth to the people of Israel but their leaders did not want to hear it and tried to murder him.
Jesus of Nazareth spoke truth to the people of Israel but their leaders murdered him.
As today’s Gospel tells us; “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Speaking or living the truth always brings persecution and conflict. Anyone who knows how, what we call ‘whistle blowers’, are persecuted will realise this.
I am blind to my own faults. My family, my friends, my neighbours see them clearly. I seriously resent being corrected or having even one of my faults pointed out to me. “Mind your own business” I retort angrily.

When I joined the Seminary, the first year was a spiritual year. We did what you might call a crash course in spirituality. It was a conditioning process. Part of it involved four to five hours in church each day performing various forms of prayer.
Another part involved the whole group, supervised by the spiritual director, publicly pointing out each others faults and failings. You can see the thinking behind it seeing as we are all blind to our own faults. Of course we, at the age of eighteen, had very little discernment as to this or understanding of the root causes or motivation for these visible faults. Luckily humour sometimes crept in (although frowned upon) as for example I was once accused of not removing my clerical black hat in the dormitory until I had put on my pyjamas.

The message of today’s readings is that I should be open to correction especially by those who love me and are concerned for my welfare.
I should always be alert to hints and remarks which may be vaguely critical and not resent them and strike back. Thinking later about these hints can be educational and helpful in seeing myself through the eyes of others who always see me more clearly than I do myself. Feeling gratitude for such hints should be my response rather than a hot resentment because they may well be pearls of wisdom.
For the wise, criticism from an enemy can gain one more self knowledge and understanding than floods of affirmation.