That’s how children’s stories start, right? Do you remember your parents saying, “Ok, go brush your teeth and get your pajamas on, and I’ll tell you a story.”? That was about the most exciting moment of the day, “Oh wow, a story!!” Off we raced to get ready for bed . . . “Dad’s going to tell us a story!!”
Your young heart was so eager for the chance to imagine, to dream, to picture people and places far far away. And the best part was, this story was being told by the ones you loved the most (mom and dad).
Story time had a special feel all its own. It felt safe and warm, and was a soft entrance to the sometimes lonely task of falling asleep. “Yay! We’re all here together and this story is going to make us happy and glad,” your child’s heart would say. I remember tales about “being honest”, “trying your best”, “helping a person in need”, “standing up for what’s right”, or my favorite, “the Best thing in the world” (going to heaven and being with Jesus and all the wonderful people, like Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle).
I picture Mary and Joseph telling Jesus bedtime stories. They must have been wonderful at it, because their son became a brilliant story teller. He knew the power a well told story had in touching the heart of the listener. He himself must have listened in awe as a child.
And that’s the power of the stories we’re hearing in the gospels this summer. Instead of “once upon a time”, Jesus begins them with “The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . . “ and with this playful invitation to imagine, Jesus instructs us about the most important things in life.
The instruction comes not from lecturing about “the seven virtues of the moral life”, but by inviting us to imagine we were farmers, bakers, jewel merchants, day workers for a temp agency, a run-away boy and his home schooled brother (all parables in Matthew 13 and Luke 15).
The story brings the meaning straight to our heart because we already know what something like that “feels like”. Take for example the Gospel this Sunday. We hear about a fortune hunter looking for buried treasure . . . suddenly there it is!!.
You can feel the rush of excitement; so much so that he buries it again so no one else can take it from him, and then, just to be safe – – he buys the whole field just in case he forgets the exact spot he buried it. It’s that, “I’ve got to have THAT ONE” feeling. Quick before it’s gone!!
What’s the message? The Kingdom of Heaven is what I’ve been looking for all my life. I’ve got to have it! And where is it?
It’s in the words Jesus speaks this Sunday in the gospel. It’s the reality that these stories not only point to, but are actually planted in our hearts and “fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)
And who dare speak these stories about things we cannot see? Christ of course, the Word made flesh, “and the teaching you have heard is not mine, but comes from the Father, who sent me.” Jn. 14:24.
God loves you so much.
Save the Date
Sunday, September 7th from 12 noon to 3:00 pm.
More to follow!