Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 29, 2003
Face critics with wise discernment
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
Hell will always try to blackmail heaven, but that's to be resisted.
Looking at Jesus, we see that, in the face of criticism and hatred, his key questions weren't: "Can I live with this criticism? Do I let someone's hatred of me destroy my energy and joy?"
Looking at Jesus, we see that the key questions are: "Can I live with myself? Can I be centred and patient enough to let God, history and truth be my judge? Can I be sensitive to how I'm seen and judged by others, even as I take my identity from a reality deeper than public opinion and the view of those who dislike me?
Jesus shows us the way here, albeit it's far, far from an easy one. This gate is narrow. It's not easy to not be intimidated from doing what we are called to do because we experience opposition.
Not just because darkness perennially resists light, but because it's impossible to live for any length of time inside of any kind of closeness, family or community, without irritating and hurting each other.
We have different personalities, different perspectives and we all arrive on the scene carrying wounds from elsewhere.
Community isn't automatic and it isn't easy, but we must not let our truth and our joy die in the face of opposition.
Though a caution needs to be added: There is always a danger of self-delusion when we discern our truth. In the face of criticism, opposition and hatred, we should always seek spiritual direction, from the wise and from the good. Wisdom and goodness are the great principles of discernment.
Hence, go to those in the community who are wise and go to those who are good. Ask them how they see you and how they see those particular actions of yours that are so upsetting to your critics.
And know and accept that always there will be criticism, anger and sometimes even hatred. Jesus experienced this and, in the end, it killed him. He warned that, for us, it will be no different. Hell will always try to blackmail heaven, but that's to be resisted.
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