There is the famous tale from Aesop’s Fables, of a fox who wanted to eat the cheese he saw in the mouth of the bird. He first approached the bird and praised how beautiful his color was. He then praised how beautiful were the bird’s feathers. Then he said, “I am sure that your singing is as beautiful as your feathers and as your colors. May I hear your beautiful voice?”. The flattered bird then unhesitatingly opened its mouth to sing, and out fell the cheese. Instantly, the fox grabbed the cheese and left, and he did not bother to listen to the song of the bird. Look what flattery (hindi tapat na pagpupuri) can do.
In St. Mark’s Gospel, the enemies of Jesus wanted to trap him with a question. Is it okay to pay taxes to Caesar? If Jesus answered, “No,” he would be considered a rebel. If he answered, “Yes,” he would be considered pro-Rome which the Israelites abhorred. But before they posted the question, what did the enemies do? They FLATTERED Jesus.
Three things about Flattery?
- Pretty words are not always true and true words are not always pretty. In all of our relationships, be careful of people who always flatter. Often, there is something that the person needs or there is an agenda.
- When one is flattered, one thinks he or she is the best. “It is all about me.” Hence, when we think that, we are on the top. In Tagalog it is called, “Lumaki na yun ulo”. Let us always remember the saying, “What goes up must come down.”
- “Vanity of vanities, all is vanities” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). Whatever blessings we have, everything passes away. Hence, instead of using it for ourselves, let us use it for others.
May we always remember, instead of giving ourselves the Glory, let us give it to God. Jesus was able to answer the question of enemies because it was clear to Him that God should always come first in life.