Some have a natural gift for telling stories.
Few of us think of ourselves as gifted storytellers.
Yet every one of us is a special kind of story … and… God’s personal storyteller.
Whose story are you most aware of?
At one level, the story that most interests us is our own story with its twists and turns, highs and lows. Unfortunately, many of us stop at the top level of our stories. We may never really understand our own story. We spend a lifetime figuring it out. Sadly, sometimes we think it ours is the only story.
There are so many other stories we know and can tell.
Our loved ones each have a story. So also, the rich and the famous, the good and the bad. There are the stories of the forgotten ones or the unknown ones and even the stories of all creatures and indeed all of creation, which God tells us is good. Even God has a story!
God’s story, God’s Storytellers
In his message for the 54th World Day of Communication Pope Francis writes movingly that we are not only God’s story … but that we must also be God’s storytellers… God’s story as lived in us and in our brothers and sisters.
The Gospel of John tells us that the quintessential storyteller – the Word – himself becomes the story: “God’s only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (Jn 1: 18).
…The history of Christ is not a legacy from the past; it is our story, and always timely.
Pope Francis quotes St. Paul…
“You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3).
Pope Francis continues…
With the gaze of the great storyteller – the only one who has the ultimate point of view – we can then approach the other characters, our brothers and sisters, who are with us as actors in today’s story.
For no one is an extra on the world stage, and everyone’s story is open to possible change.
The Special vocation of Vincentians as storytellers
Vincentians accept the special vocation to tell God’s story. It is the mission of Vincentians to focus on sharing stories of the forgotten and marginalized.
We, inspired by the model of St. Vincent, claim to stand in the heritage of Jesus of bringing good news (the story of God’s love) to the poor.
“He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” Luke 4:17 ff.
As we try to live this mandate, we sometimes forget that this does not just mean talking at people. It means listening to their stories so that together we can see and understand one another’s stories as part of God’s story.
Storytellers are also very good listeners. Listening to another’s story helps us all to understand our stories and see all stories as part of God’s story.
Listening to others’ stories helps us understand our stories. We take holy pride in being “the voice of the poor.”
But we must also help others find their voice and tell their own story. We must never forget they must tell their own story. So we are also called to help them understand and tell their own story in their own language.
As we listen to another’s often painful story, we recognize the bruised and battered face of Christ today.
Perhaps we can recognize our role as that of Veronica as she wiped the blood from Jesus’ face. Jesus may leave us his imprint on us.