The Art of Criticism

 

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Have you ever been criticized? If you never been criticized it does not mean that you have no mistakes but perhaps people are afraid of you and do not dare to say your weaknesses honestly. People say that we need critics so that we can grow and become better. However, in psychology, there is no critic that develops or changes people. Usually critics make people worse. For example, if I keep on telling someone his mistakes, I am sure he is not getting better. Instead, he will feel sad, down, and think that he cannot do better.
So how do we change people or help them? It is by supporting them and saying positive things about them. According to behaviorism perspective, people will do what is asked from them if they are given positive respond or stimulus. We can think of our experience. Once we get reward from what we do, we will keep on doing it and we will become better and better.
But then if we see the Gospel Matthew 23:23-26, we hear about Jesus criticized the scribes and Pharisees. He even called them hypocrites. I think it was very strong and painful critic. Why did Jesus do that?  I am thinking of two reasons.  The first is Jesus never learnt psychology. If he knew aout the behaviorism perspectivethen he would not criticize them. Instead, he would give positive stimulus so that they could change.
But there is also second reason. I think Jesus knew that they were very stubborn. They sticked to their perspectives. They usedwrong eyeglasses. So the only way to change them if they wanted to change was to confront their thinking, to show them their mistakes, to tell them to change their eyeglasses. And Jesus did it. Jesus really pinpointed why he called them hypocrites.
So what we can learn from todays Gospel is to give others positive respond and stimulus, for example through appreciations, good words, and rewards. But if it does not work then we can criticize them by telling them exactly where their mistake is.

(Written by: Fr. Reynold Agustinus Sombolayuk, OMI, his Homily in Daily Mass, 23 August 2016, at the Chapel of Bolduc House, Quezon City, Philippines)

 

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