Because of famine, the Hebrew people fled from the land of Israel down to Egypt. They lived well there at first, because one of their own, Joseph, the son of Jacob, had acquired, by his wisdom and effort, the confidence of the king of Egypt. But a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt, and life for the Hebrews took a distinct turn for the worse. The Hebrews became slaves and were forced to build the supply cities of Pithom and Rameses, and their newborn males were cast into the river.
See how valuable a good reputation is! And yet Christ, who calls us to take up our cross and follow him, asks many of us to set aside our good reputations. St. Ignatius knew this well, so he gave his retreatants an exercise to make them ready for such a sacrifice, if need be. He would invite retreatants, “in order to imitate and be in reality more like Christ our Lord… [to] desire and choose… insults with Christ loaded with them, rather than honors… to be accounted as worthless and a fool for Christ, rather than to be esteemed as wise and prudent in this world. So Christ was treated.” Most of us aren’t on retreat right now, making the Spiritual Exercises, but all of us can find some way to loosen our grip on our own reputation, with God’s help.