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Telling the World’s Greatest Story with seven simple points

At some point on life’s journey, every person should get to meet a gifted storyteller. Every family, workplace, and pretty much every group of any kind should come equipped with one.

Some cultures hold storytelling in especially high regard. Gifted storytellers possess a blend of related talents: a strong, resonant speaking voice, a certain “stage presence,” an ability to emphasize and deemphasize just the right points, and a flair for the dramatic. Perhaps the talent that impresses me the most about the best storytellers, however, is their ability to weave just the right content into a story. They know just what to say and in what order to say it. They are able to include many details other people would never have thought of in the first place. Yet they also make sure to keep the plot moving without getting bogged-down. And it all leads to a satisfying conclusion that comes neither too early nor too late.

The Lord Jesus testified that the reason He has come to us is to preach the Gospel (see, for example, Lk 4:18). Preaching is also a major component of the mission Christ entrusts to His apostles before His Ascension into heaven (see Mk 16:15 and Mt 28:19-20). Saint Paul also declares in 1 Corinthians 9:16 that he has a duty to preach the Gospel, adding, “Woe to me if I do not preach it!”

What does it mean to preach the Gospel? Among other ways this preaching could be described, it means telling the story of Jesus, what one film famously calls “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.

Saint Paul makes it clear that this storytelling is not for the sake of entertainment. In many traditional cultures, storytelling has been a way to pass down vital wisdom about God, about what it means to be human, about the meaning of life, and about religion, culture, and family. Telling the story of Jesus concerns all of these things and more. The name of Jesus means “God saves” (Mt 1:21). To tell the story of Jesus, then, is to tell the story of God, the story of those He came to save and to tell the story of how this all works in each human life.

Obviously, not all Christians have the talents of a great storyteller. There is need to pray to the Holy Spirit for whatever gifts God wishes to give, with confidence that He desires to give His gifts and that whatever He gives or holds back fits exactly with His plan. There are no accidents with God.

No matter what other gifts God gives, however, one tool every disciple can cultivate is knowledge of the content of the story, at least in its basics. I said above that I am always impressed at how a good storyteller knows just what to say when telling a story. I am impressed because when I try to tell a story I tend to miss important details, or to have only a vague sense of what to say in my mind, when what’s needed is a concrete and vivid description. Many people can be kind of foggy in this way when they are telling a story.

A certain “brain fog” is common in telling the story of Jesus. People have a general sense that Christ loves all people and that we are to love Him in return. They know that being close to Jesus is important for going to heaven, and that there are certain terrible things people can do to break-off their relationship with Jesus. Beyond that, the details can get pretty sketchy.

Read more at Catholic World Report

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