“Simon, I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment” (Lk 7: 44-46). Here, Simon had invited Jesus to his house for a dinner. But he didn’t pay Jesus any respect. Jesus could have kept his silence. He could have simply thanked Jesus for the feast and gone out. But Jesus is rebuking Simon for his attitude.
God warns and corrects. God warned Adam and Eve about the tree in the centre of the garden. “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die” (Gen 3:3). When they succumbed, God questioned them. He warned Cain as well. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? “And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen 4:7). Further, when Cain murdered his brother Abel, God questioned him. “Where is your brother”? Jesus, and John the Baptist initiated their sermons and public life by giving such warnings.
Certain tender warnings and corrections are needed in the human relations as well. Many a times, corrections and accusations originate from annoyance and agitation. If love means to stand for the good of your neighbour, then corrections should be given affectionately. A gardener not only gives water and fertilizer to the plants, but also prunes the branches which are infected. However, this pruning is painful. Yet when it is to save the plant from far-reaching damages, it becomes redemptive.
We often hear rumours. But the person who is being talked may not be aware of it. The detection of cancer is done sometimes at a later stage when it has spread to the whole body. In similar lines, a rumour can run round the world, before it comes to the person being talked about. Such rumours may be factual or baseless. A warning given in the language of love, can stop the spreading of the rumour or at least can prompt for a self-correction. We sometimes forget the fact that the early bird only catches the worm.
Jesus taught us to point out the fault of our brother who has sinned against us, but in private. Hence to correct is not to keep quiet. But open sharing and discussion is sure to clear many misunderstandings. This is equally needed in family and as well as in society. A wife is trying to conceal something from her husband. He is getting to hear the same through a third person is indeed hurting. To avoid giving pain to their children, certain parents abstain from questioning their wards on occasions of calumny. It also could be due to a feeling that my children are not bound to make any mistakes. Such attitudes have the potential to mislead the children at a later stage. Parents, teachers and social leaders are bound to give corrections to the people entrusted to them.
“You didn’t mention it to me even after being aware of it?” Often our dear ones put across such questions. We may think “If I speak out, what they will presume? Why should I tell?” We need courage to speak up the truth and also the conviction that what we do originate out of love. There are a few who would only justify themselves, their thoughts, character and their actions. They would try to evade all situations by shifting the blame on others and claiming that time would prove everything. Those who cannot comprehend will never have an open mind to receive criticisms. They only think that they are correct. Jesus told Peter, “You will betray me”. Peter answered, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you”(Matt 26:33). But we know that in the end, Peter had to weep bitterly.
John was out for his morning walk. He met a man on his way. John enquired “Tony, what is wrong with you? You lost your weight considerably and became short. Your complexion also became dark? In surprise, the person replied “Sorry, I am not Tony, but Jacob”. “ So it means you have changed your name also?” John asked. Some people are like this. They will never accept even their own mistakes. But our dealings with such people should be kind and merciful. “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan 12:7). While leading others, let us never forget that we too were fallen and chances are there to fall again as well.
It is quite clear that God uses other humans to speak to us. Let our pride and ego never block that voice of God. Corrections don’t imply that we are fully wrong, but our unwise talks or actions may have given others a chance to point the finger at us. Hence, let us not justify ourselves and skip our responsibilities. Jesus turned back and looked at Peter. “He went out and wept bitterly” (Lk 22:61). The corrections which we find difficult to accept in public with humility, probably we may accept before the Lord in private. And may weep too…