People today are no different than they were 2,000 years ago. We naturally want things to be verified before we assent to them. This natural human disposition even applies to what we expect from God. After all, “God is all powerful and all knowing, so why does he not reveal himself to us clearly, when he obviously could?”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals that he knows our thoughts: “Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.”God apparently knows our expectations. So why does he not go the extra step and perform the type of miracle that would make believers of all people?
The answer is that he respects our freedom.
What should we expect of God?
If God made us free – free to believe – then doesn’t it make sense that he would give us the opportunity to exercise our freedom?
Human beings are not absolutely free. We are not free to believe certain things, like the fact that the earth is solid and water is wet. If Jesus Christ were to make himself obviously known to everyone as the all-powerful God who created the universe, by performing some miracle that would force everyone to believe, where would the freedom be? Where would the love be?
Rather than expecting God to impose himself on us, we ought to expect him to give us the opportunity to choose to believe in him, so as to love him freely.
What should God expect of us?
On further consideration, this could be an opportunity for us to examine our own attitude and expectations regarding God, and then ask, “What does God expect from us?”
This is apparently they type of reflection he wants from the people in his home town of Nazareth. In terms of our fundamental humanity, we Post-Modern, 21 Century humans are really not much different from the men of those times, so it is probably safe to assume that he wants the same from us.
The God who gave us the gift of life and made us free does not simply want us to exercise our freedom; he expects us to use it wisely.
To be sure, we did not make ourselves, nor did we make ourselves free. Freedom is a gift. The choice is always yours on how to use it. Jesus presents himself before each one of us in today’s reading as God made man and asks us to exercise our faith.
Your response — to believe or to ask for more signs before you can accept him — is a free choice.
Why don’t we do what God expects of us?
What should we expect of a friend? When a friend comes knocking at your door, do you ignore him? Tell him to go away?
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
Today, Jesus is knocking at the door of your life. How do you answer? The people of Nazareth answered by trying to throw Jesus off a cliff. They expect God to meet their expectations, yet are unwilling to do what God ought to expect of them. Is that reasonable?
If we truly were reasonable we would realize, quite easily, that God’s reasoning is naturally above human reasoning. Yet we so often tend to put our reasons above God’s. Faith requires that we sometimes humble our minds and place God’s reasoning, which we do not always understand, above our own. So what is faith? In practice, faith is nothing other than freely choosing to do the most rational thing — to believe and trust in God. This is clearly what God expects from us.