Jesus’ Testimony to John
Somerset Maugham a British writer of, Of Human Bondage, said: “People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise.”
Again William Penn, an English preacher and colonialist in his book, Some Fruits of Solitude, said: “They have a right to censure, that have a heart to help.”
Finding fault is a frequent human pastime. Just like Jesus in today’s gospel reading, He finds His contemporaries critical of His teachings and deeds. He is at the receiving end of a good bit of it. Both St. John the Baptist and Jesus were God’s messengers and they use different styles and approaches of communicating God’s life and message to the people and yet they criticize both of them. On one hand, St. John the Baptist proclaims the power of God’s judgments over people and seeks their conversion and repentance. But many, like the Pharisees, find that this was not the message they wanted to hear. Many want to please God but implicitly look to only to please themselves and consider their day gone well if God has come to terms with all their desires. John helps them aroused in their souls a deep awareness of their own sinfulness and yet they criticize him for being too ascetic and complain his austere lifestyle. “He must be crazy,” they said. On the other hand, Jesus´ approach is to make them believe that God is merciful and still they criticize Him for being not ascetic enough. They complain about His apparently excessive liberality with sinners and nonbelievers.
Francis J. Kong said something about criticism in his book, One Day at a Time (vol. 4 p. 53), that whether you like it or not, you simply have to live with the fact that not everyone will like you. There will always be people who would criticize you but the way you handle it will decide whether you will become a success or not. On the other hand, the more important thing about this is to understand that we should not be critical of others too. Watch your tongue carefully.
Why did the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus meet with resistance and deaf ears? Is it ever possible to please such critics? What is the source of such a negative attitude? The source is no other than pride. This is the short answer. And pride is one of the seven vices or cardinal sins as oppose to humility. The others are: Avarice as opposes to generosity, Envy as opposes to charity, Wrath as opposes to meekness, Lust as opposes to chastity, Gluttony as opposes to temperance, Sloth as opposes to perseverance.
Proud people, secure in their own opinions, are quick to point out what they consider other´s deficiencies. They can pass someone on the street and without a single word of conversation immediately categorize them, mentally shelving them with the appropriate label.
Let us ask ourselves: How great is our own pride? How quick are we to judge others?