I’ve always been uncomfortable with – and also not so good at – self-promotion. Whether it’s the various ministries Oddwalk offers, or perhaps a piece of music I’ve written for the Church, or most anything else, it’s difficult for me to be too forthcoming about it. For me, it’s a number of factors that come together: I’m always afraid it’ll come off a bit (or more) like bragging, or that my motivation for sharing such things isn’t only the good of the Church but also something more selfish (like notoriety or financial gain). I of course do have a few opportunities to share good news and do so, like when a composition of mine is recently published, but I still do so with a bit of trepidation.
It sometimes seems to me that, in his own way, Jesus had some similar concerns. We heard just this past weekend at Mass, as we always do on the 2nd Sunday of Lent, about Jesus’s transfiguration. This miracle was performed only in front of a select few (Peter, James, John), and at its end, Jesus instructed them not to share anything about what they just experienced, at least not until he had risen from the dead.
That admonition is not unique; many other times Jesus performed miracles – miracles of healing notably – and instructed people not to share anything about their experience. Initially, that can seem very odd when one thinks about it. Wouldn’t Jesus want more people to experience his healing powers, and in turn many many more people come to believe who he is? We do, however, have a few clues as to why Jesus often asked people to be quiet about his miracles. In Mark 1:45, after Jesus cleanses a leper, even though the leper was instructed to tell no one, he does, and as a result, Jesus was no longer able to move freely from town to town, with people coming to him from all sides.
Jesus’s ministry of healing (and other miracles) were and are only one part of his life – a ministry of care and compassion, but also revelation of who Jesus is: the Son of God, and, in fact, God-made-flesh. Yet these miracles and the attention that they drew could easily – and sometimes did – become a distraction to other aspects of his ministry – sharing God’s word, God’s truth. If Jesus’s movements were hindered severely, and if people were attracted to Jesus as if a sort of carnival sideshow, fewer people who needed to would hear his Good News preached – words like the sermon of the mount, the chastising of the Sadducces and Pharisees, teachings to the woman at the well and to Nicodemus, and many others. People might come to Jesus only as Herod does during Christ’s passion: looking for Jesus to do a magic trick so to speak, rather than experience anything else of his divine presence.
Ultimately, I’m not inclined to say that I and Jesus have too much in common regarding our reasons to avoid self-promotion. I’m quite content knowing there is but one God and that it’s not me. Yet it is in a small way nice to know that even Jesus struggled with some sort of the same feelings and how best to share of himself with a waiting world.