WITNESS IS BETTER THAN CRITICISM
Nobody is so free from sin or is so innocent that he can throw stones at others (cf. Jn. 8:1-11). In the Gospel story of the adulterous woman, the only just and innocent person is the one who would never throw a stone at anyone. The way to act as Jesus consists in showing, with one’s life the correct path for conversion and change, and to motivate others to follow it.
Criticism and calumny creates walls and division between people. The evangelizer is above all a builder of bridges and makes ties of communion between men and women and with God. Claret decided not to complain or defend himself when accused or slandered (cf. Aut. 422). The motive behind it was probably the consideration that nothing should distance him from his vocation and his most important mission. If he spent time defending himself he runs the risk of leaving the proclamation in second place. On the other hand his deep humility didn’t allow him to blow his own trumpet.
Perhaps the nub of the question is here. If the primordial vocation of every Christian is to give witness to Jesus Christ, we should be aware of the need that our own ‘me’ does not appear at the forefront nor be our first preoccupation. Seen like this it becomes easier to know how to accept criticism and even calumnies that can come our way. The awareness that John the Baptist had is of benefit in that he should be in second place that Jesus may occupy the centre: ‘that he increase but that I decrease’ (Jn. 3:30)
What is it that I look for first in my activities: that my reasons or virtue be more noticed or that God be known, loved and served? Do I have the ability to overcome the small and big unjust criticisms that are directed at me and to follow my Christian vocation with joy?