An old story tells us about the first time man saw a camel.
According to the story the first man to ever see a camel was frightened by the creature's size and so he ran away. The next time he saw the camel he kept himself a t a safe distance and just observed the beast. The third time he encountered the camel he was emboldened enough to approach the animal and feed it some tufts of grass. By this time the man had lost all his fear of the camel and he fourth time he saw it he put a saddle on it and rode it across the desert. He had lost his fear, but he had also lost any sense of what a truly extraordinary creature the camel was.
There is an idiom that dates back to before the time of Jesus, “familiarity breeds contempt.” It means that we often lose sight of the goodness of a thing or person because we encounter that person or thing every day. Our closeness to the person, or thing, blinds us to the great value of what we have in that person.
Jesus came to His “native place.” He preached to those who had known Him since childhood, His friends, neighbors, and relatives. And although they were impressed by His wisdom and eloquence still they could not get past the fact that they knew him as just the carpenter. They took offense at Him and ultimately rejected Him. But perhaps the most telling remark in the Gospel account is that because of their lack of faith Jesus could perform no mighty deeds. We see this frequently in scripture, it is through a persons faith that they are rewarded with miracles.
God does not use miracles to persuade us to believe or to show unbelievers His power. He does not overpower us with His might, instead He invites us to follow Him. When we do that, when we accept the quiet invitation of God to follow Him, then He will reward us by showing us His power and majesty. But first we must come to Him out of love.
God invites us to come to Him, not by showing us great miracles, but through gentle nudgings of our hearts.
When we stand up for the Truth that God has revealed to us through His Church, we do not need to do so in a belligerent way. Rather let us follow the example of Jesus and invite, patiently respecting the absolute freedom of others to accept or reject Him. But when our hand is stretched out in love and rejected, that does not mean we give up, only that we wait for another opportunity to extend the invitation once again.
We are Christ’s messengers in the world and how we deliver that message informs the world about Our Lord. Instead of delivering the message by criticizing and condemning, let us remember to deliver the message as Jesus Himself did, with patience, respect, and love.