Updated: Jul 21
17 July 2020 / Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Ave Maria Parish / Romanus Cessario, O.P.
Our Lord today offers sound advice to all Catholics (Mt 12: 1–8). In a word, he tells us to avoid peremptory criticism. Peremptory criticism occurs when we make rash judgments about the words or deeds of others. Oftentimes these criticisms arise from a lack of full knowledge about the putatively offending incident. The Pharisees, for instance, failed to recognize that the disciples of Jesus could eat on a sabbath because he “is the Lord of the sabbath” (Mt 12: 8). A modern–day equivalent might happen when someone fails to recognize that health care workers, to take one example, can do servile work on Sunday, and then proceeds to make a critical judgment about them.
Critical thoughts do not make Christian communities strong. On the contrary, critical thoughts divide and ultimately destroy a Christian community. Authorities can issue salutary corrections, but never peremptorily. The reason for the harm that critical attitudes cause comes from Christ himself: “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (Mt 12: 7).
Christ shows himself to be a good psychologist. People given to repeating condemnatory and critical remarks are those who have not experienced the Lord’s mercy in their own lives. Burdened by their own sins, they spread negative thoughts among others. So when we encounter people given to making peremptory criticisms, we should respond, not with argument, but with love. Then we will give witness to how much Jesus desires mercy, for everybody.