Fr. Damien never sought publicity, but when foreign newspapers acclaimed his work and organized campaigns to raise donations for Kalawao, he was derided and criticized by the Board of Health and other mission groups. They were embarrassed by the implications that one man had outdone all of them in his commitment and energy. (Kun, Jeanne: Aloha, Kamiano!)
Although Fr. Damien worked hard for the people of his community, his brusque ways and headstrong disposition sometimes made enemies of those who were jealous of what he had accomplished. Even after his death he was slandered by many, including other Christians. Sometimes no matter what we do, or how well we do it, others will complain. Like Fr. Damien, we cannot let that stop us; our motivation has to be pleasing God, not people.
Still, the Bible cautions us that we should watch our behavior as well. We may do wonderful things in Christ's name, but if we hit people over the head with a sledge hammer we can undo all the good we are trying to accomplish. Peter wrote the fledgling Christian communities: But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
We all, like Fr. Damien, have our personality defects. But part of our Christian walk is in dying to ourselves, and so it is important to ask the Holy Spirit for help in overcoming those defects. Then we can truly be a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Corinth. 2:15)
St. Damien of Molokai, pray for us!