We live in an age of false news and scams.
I have read in the last month that children at school are being taught to distinguish between true and false news. Since most of them get their news from the internet and not from newspapers or television, it is indeed imperative that they can discern what is true and what is false or at the very least misleading. Mind you, once or twice I myself have read something in the newspapers and said to myself, ‘That’s outrageous’ or ‘That’s impossible!’ before noticing that the date is 1st April.
As for scams, well, if you have email you have almost certainly received an email promising a wonderful sum of money for you, if only you will first let the sender have your bank details.
In short, we have to be vigilant.
Two thousand years ago they were vigilant at Nazareth (Mark 6.1-6). Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus the Christ, in fact, came to them with his words that were both challenging and encouraging. He announced the Kingdom of God, and invited them to be part of it. And they were sceptical. They feared false news or a scam. A local lad as the Messiah – you can understand their hesitation and their doubts. And yet, God has to start somewhere. He had started long ago with this people, he had prepared them with the message of the prophets, and now the promise was being fulfilled in this time and this place.
Today we hear that even miracles of healing did not persuade them in Nazareth. It reminds us that in our relationship with God, there is no such thing as absolute certainty. Imagine, if you will, someone who is a well-known atheist. Ask yourself what would convince them of the reality of God. You will quickly realise that even the most dramatic miracles would simply leave them shaking their head and reaching for an alternative explanation. A hallucination, perhaps, or mass hypnosis, or sleight of hand, or … you can see my point.
God has given us many proofs. We see them in the world of nature and marvel at the hand of the designer (yes, even through natural selection). We are moved by beauty: a painting, a landscape, a garden. There is love in our hearts, even if we struggle to love sometimes, love that points us back to the source of love. There is the witness of the scriptures, there is the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Christ. But God always invites us. God does not dominate but gives us the space to say Yes to the divine invitation. So, while I understand the reluctance of the people of Nazareth, I think we need to remember that always there is that leap of faith that we have to make. God invites, and we step forward in trust.