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What does the Word of God tell us this Sunday?

You also must be prepared

As any teacher or public speaker knows, the best way to deliver a message is to tell a story that drives the point memorably home. Rest assured that people will lose the handouts, shelve their notes, and forget the PowerPoint display in short order. But an evocative story has staying power. The longer it is savored, the more its meaning penetrates our understanding.

So it is not surprising to note how frequently biblical writers resort to storytelling as a mode of exhortation. Sure, there are long lists of laws, rules, and moral instructions in the Bible, too, but how familiar is the average churchgoer with Leviticus and Sirach? The best known and most well-loved part of the scripture is the Book of Genesis. That’s where the stories are. That’s where the action is and where listening becomes learning.

In today’s readings, we see that the writer of Wisdom appeals to the great story of the Exodus to illustrate God’s special providence for the just, while the writer of Hebrews retells the exploits of Abraham to affirm the necessity for a vital faith. In the gospel, Jesus underscores a teaching on stewardship with contrasting parables about responsible and reprehensible servants. Though all three of these teachers were no doubt held in great esteem by their audiences, chances are their lessons might have slipped beyond their listeners—and any future disciples—if they had relied on a thesis statement alone.

The stories Jesus tells are not reminders so much as revealers. They lift the veil on our present experiences to show us that God’s grace is active in every hour and is available with those who have eyes to see.

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