The Gospel reading shows the tension in Jesus’ life between his public image (“The Pharisees said, ‘He drives out demons by the prince of demons.’”), and following through with what He believed he ought to do.
At its best, a good reputation is a platform that can be used to reach out to wider audiences, i.e. Pope Francis’ apparent celebrity status. Over time, the problem with an attachment on the opinions of others is that we begin to aim for fame in our actions. Instead of listening to the quiet voice of God in our hearts, we can gradually substitute the imagined comments of our peers, co-workers, and our family members as the compass needle in our discernment.
Jesus focuses not on the elite, but fixes his gaze on the poor, the masses, those who needed healing in the towns and villages. We must cultivate relationships where we receive feedback from others based on the values of the Gospel and the Kingdom. We demonstrate our humanity when we lose sight of our goal, but God never tires in trying to keep our attention on His mission.
Are their certain people’s opinions that govern my life? Where is God inviting me to rest and rely on his love, and thus freeing me for greater service? On what do I feel called to fix my gaze like Christ?
—Dano Kennedy, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies.