By Richard Ho Lung
There is a great resistance in all of us: to admit our own weaknesses and sins, our faults and mistakes. It is devastating to us and angers us when our wives, husbands, children, friends, co-workers or superiors point to our wrongs. Yet, there is no doubt we are flawed, weak and sinful. Sometimes we know it, sometimes we don't.
We all need forgiveness; we all need to say, "I'm sorry." But pride blocks us or blinds us. We refuse to talk with others who see our wrongs. We consider them enemies, but our critics might be our best friends.
We must look at criticism objectively - IS IT true or IS IT not? We might ask the critic to give examples, but not with rancour or anger, but in humility. We must not presume that the other hates or despises us, but that it comes from a desire for our goodwill.
Even if there is malice in the other's heart, we must remember the Lord's counsel in the Beatitudes: "When men hate you and revile you, rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven."
I do not see how we can do without correction, since we are not without sin. As we are reminded by Christ, "The just man sins daily 70 times seven," and we must forgive him. After all, "he who is without sin, cast the first stone." We need to admit it: "I am a sinner just like everybody else."
Fall and rise again
I admit it to all my religious brothers, young as they are. I admit it to you. I am weak, I go to confession, I confess my particular sins and weaknesses every two weeks. I am corrected by my fellow counsellors. Each day at breakfast, we correct each other. We are open, and there is no resentment in our hearts for each other.
We fall, we dust ourselves off, and we start all over again. We keep trying to overcome our weaknesses. So many are there that we try to concentrate on our main weaknesses. The fact that we keep on trying is what makes us holy men and women.
In our relationship with our family members, we should formally meet, or maybe over a Sunday meal, ask for correction, be corrected, and correct firmly but with love! When we correct or are corrected, we must keep silent, lest we react angrily or defensively. We thank others for correcting us, because it takes courage and love.
This fills us with humility, and helps us towards overcoming our weaknesses, and building relationships of truth. It takes a lot of love and genuine concern for one another. We must remember: "Love covers a multitude of sins." Love and truth are the two prime principles of life.
This exercise should also happen among friends, business associates, and no one is exempted, including the person in charge.
It would be most necessary among politicians, since they hold such a great responsibility for the nation's welfare, and, as we know, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Finally, we want to be perfected in Christ. He is the only one who lived on the face of the earth who can be called perfect. Yet, He was humbled, rejected, hated, spat upon, mocked and scorned by the most evil of persons. His final words before death were: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Correction is painful, and sometimes untrue, yet we must endure it, and, as in the case of Christ, it perfected and chastised his human nature, which is so prone to sin.
I have been hurt, and I am sure that I have hurt others because of correction. But, it has helped me cure my weaknesses and sins, though I am never completely free of sin.
Jamaicans, we have not corrected others enough, including our loved ones and our leaders. Until we do that, we will not live in truth, in confidence of one another, and in trust. As the Lord says, "He who loveth, chastiseth."
We must avoid pride and self-righteousness and walk humbly before the Lord and all men.
Father Richard Ho Lung is founder of Missionaries of the Poor. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.